Background and aims We recently identified dopamine-2 receptor (D2R) autoantibodies in children with autoimmune movement and psychiatric disorders. This supported the hypothesis that a subgroup of patients may be autoimmune-mediated. However, the target epitope(s) remain unknown.
Methods Human D2R mutants modified in their extracellular domains were subcloned, and we analysed the region bound by 35 anti-D2R antibody-positive patient sera using quantitative flow cytometry on live transfected cells.
Results No anti-D2R antibody-positive patient sera bound to the three extracellular loops, but all patient sera (35/35) targeted the extracellular N-terminus. Overall, patient antibody binding was dependent on two main regions encompassing amino acids 20 to 29, and 23 to 37. Residues 20 to 29 contributed to the majority of binding (77%, 27/35), among which 26% (7/27) sera bound to amino acids R20, P21, and F22, 37% (10/27) patients were dependent on residues at positions 26 and 29, that are different between humans and mice, and 30% (8/27) sera required R20, P21, F22, N23, D26, and A29. Seven patient sera bound to the region 23 to 37 independently of D26 and A29, but most sera exhibited N-glycosylation-independent epitope recognition at N23. Interestingly, no evident segregation of binding pattern according to patient clinical phenotype was observed.
Conclusions We report a major biological role for D2R extracellular N-terminus as a regulator of receptor surface availability, and as a major epitope targeted and impaired in brain autoimmunity. This knowledge could help the design of novel specific immune therapies tailored to improve patient outcome.
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