Objective: To address the independent roles of peptidylarginine deiminase type 2 (PAD2) and PAD4 in generating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) autoantigens by using a system that mimics intracellular citrullination in the RA joint. Methods: PAD2- or PAD4-expressing 293T cells and mock-transfected cells were used as targets in cytotoxic assays using lymphokine-activated killer cells, cytotoxic YT cell granule contents, or purified human perforin. Protein citrullination and autoantigen production were determined by immunoblotting using the anti–modified citrulline–Senshu method and RA sera (n = 30), respectively. Results: RA sera recognized at least 3 categories of autoantigens in PAD-expressing target cells killed by the cytotoxic lymphocyte granule–induced death pathway. These included: 1) autoantigens targeted in their native form, 2) citrullinated antigens, and 3) antigens cleaved by cytotoxic proteases (e.g., granzymes). Interestingly, although target cells expressing PAD2 or PAD4 showed prominent hypercitrullination of a broad range of proteins during cytotoxic granule–induced cell damage, autoantibodies in RA sera targeted only a very limited number of antigens in hypercitrullinated cells. Furthermore, RA sera showed distinct reactivities to autoantigens generated by PAD2 or PAD4. Conclusion: The cytotoxic granule–induced death pathway has the capacity to modify antigens by inducing hypercitrullination and antigen cleavage in target cells. Interestingly, among a large number of citrullinated proteins generated by PAD2 and PAD4 in cells, only a few are likely involved in the production of autoantibodies in RA.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy