Reactivity of Rheumatoid Arthritis-Associated Citrulline-Dependent Antibodies to Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigen1-3

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  • Ilaria Fanelli
  • Paolo Rovero
  • Hansen, Paul Robert
  • Jette Lautrup Frederiksen
  • Gunnar Houen
  • Nicole Hartwig Trier

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease which causes joint inflammation and, ultimately, erosion of the underlying bone. Diagnosis of RA is based on the presence of biomarkers, such as anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA) and rheumatoid factors, along with clinical symptoms. Much evidence points to a link between the Epstein-Barr virus and RA. In this study, we analyzed ACPA reactivity to citrullinated peptides originating from Epstein-Barr nuclear antigens (EBNA1, EBNA2, and EBNA3) in order to elaborate the diagnostic potential of citrullinated EBNA peptides. Moreover, ACPA cross-reactivity to citrullinated peptides from myelin basic protein (MBP) was analyzed, as citrullinated MBP recently was described to be associated with multiple sclerosis, and some degree of sequence homology between MBP and citrullinated EBNA exists. A peptide from EBNA2, (EBNA2-A, GQGRGRWRG-Cit-GSKGRGRMH) reacted with approximately 70% of all RA sera, whereas only limited reactivity was detected to EBNA1 and EBNA3 peptides. Moreover, screening of ACPA reactivity to hybrid peptides of EBNA3-A (EPDSRDQQS-Cit-GQRRGDENRG) and EBNA2-A and peptides containing citrulline close to the N-terminal confirmed that ACPA sera contain different populations of ACPAs. No notable ACPA reactivity to MBP peptides was found, confirming that ACPAs are specific for RA, and that other factors than the presence of a central Cit-Gly motif are crucial for antibody binding. Collectively, these findings illustrate that citrullinated EBNA2 is an optimal candidate for ACPA detection, supporting current evidence that EBV is linked to RA onset.

Udgave nummer1
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - 2022

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