Objective: Citrullinated proteins are hallmark targets of autoantibodies in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Our study was undertaken to determine the effect of autocitrullination on the recognition of peptidylarginine deiminases (PADs) 2 and 4 by autoantibodies in RA. Methods: Autocitrullination sites in PAD2 and PAD4 were determined by mass spectrometry and literature review. Antibodies against native and autocitrullinated PADs in 184 patients with RA were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Linear regression analysis, outlier calculations, and competition assays were performed to evaluate antibody reactivity to native and citrullinated PADs. Results: Autocitrullination of PAD2 and PAD4 was detected in 16 (48%) of 33 arginine residues and 7 (26%) of 27 arginine residues, respectively. Despite robust autocitrullination, autoantibodies bound similarly to native and citrullinated PAD2 or PAD4 (ρ = 0.927 and ρ = 0.903, respectively; each P < 0.0001). Although subsets of anti-PAD–positive sera were identified as exhibiting preferential recognition of native or citrullinated PAD2 (40.5% or 4.8%, respectively) or PAD4 (11.7% or 10.4%, respectively), competition assays confirmed that the majority of anti-PAD reactivity was attributed to a pool of autoantibodies that bound irrespective of citrullination status. Conclusion: Autocitrullination does not affect autoantibody reactivity to PADs in the majority of patients with RA, demonstrating that anti-PAD antibodies are distinct from anti–citrullinated protein antibodies in their dependence on citrullination for binding.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy