Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune demyelinating disease of the CNS resulting from a progressive loss of oligodendrocytes. Transaldolase (TAL) is expressed at selectively high levels in oligodendrocytes of the brain, and postmortem sections show concurrent loss of myelin basic protein and TAL from sites of demyelination. Infiltrating CD8+ CTLs are thought to play a key role in oligodendrocyte cell death. Cleavage by granzyme B (GrB) is predictive for autoantigenicity of self-proteins, thereby further implicating CTL-induced death in the initiation and propagation of autoimmunity. The precursor frequency and CTL activity of HLA-A2-restricted TAL 168-176-specific CD8+ T cells is increased in MS patients. In this paper, we show that TAL, but not myelin basic protein, is specifically cleaved by human GrB. The recognition site of GrB that resulted in the cleavage of a dominant TAL fragment was mapped to a VVAD motif at aa residue 27 by N-terminal sequencing and confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis. The major Cterminal GrB cleavage product, residues 28-337, had no enzymatic activity but retained the antigenicity of full-length TAL, effectively stimulating the proliferation and CTL activity of PBMCs and of CD8+ T cell lines from patients with MS. Sera of MS patients exhibited similar binding affinity to wild-type and GrB-cleaved TAL. Because GrB mediates the killing of target cells and cleavage by GrB is predictive of autoantigen status of self proteins, GrB-cleaved TAL-specific T cell-mediated cytotoxicity may contribute to the progressive destruction of oligodendrocytes in patients with MS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy