Background and aims Autoantibodies directed against the 60-kD Ro (Ro60)/SSA ribonucleoprotein particle are the major target of humoral autoimmunity in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and primary Sjögren’s syndrome (SS). However, little is known of the anti-Ro60 immunoglobulin variable-region (IgV) repertoire in terms of clonality and IgV gene usage at the level of the serum proteome.
Methods We used high-resolution mass spectrometry to sequence precipitating anti-Ro60 proteomes from sera of patients with SLE and primary SS and compare IgV peptide signatures in Ro/La autoantibody subsets. Anti-Ro60 were purified by elution from native Ro60-coated ELISA plates and subjected to combined de novo amino acid sequencing and database matching. Additionally, Ro60 precipitins from counterimmunoelectrophoresis gels were excised, digested and sequenced directly by mass spectrometry.
Results Anti-Ro60 Igs purified from ELISA plates and Ro60 precipitins were comprised dominant public sets of IgG1 kappa and lambda restricted heavy and light chains (with sharing of IGHV3-23, IGHV3-74 and IGHV1-18; IGKV3-20, IGKV1-5 and IGLV3-19). Significantly, mass spectrometric sequencing of purified anti-Ro60 IgGs from SLE patients showed the same convergence of autoantibody repertoires as primary SS, apart from one SLE patient who lacked IGHV3-74, suggesting that humoral anti-Ro60 molecular signatures are conserved across these two systemic autoimmune diseases. Specific IgV amino acid substitutions stratified anti-Ro60 from anti-Ro60 plus anti-La responses, providing a molecular fingerprint of Ro60/La determinant spreading.
Conclusions Unique anti-Ro60 IgV peptide signatures provide insights in to mechanisms of autoantibody production as well as holding promise as serum-based molecular markers for clinical syndromes linked to Ro60 autoimmunity.
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