Analysis of parotid glands of primary Sjögren's syndrome patients using proteomic technology reveals altered autoantigen composition and novel antigenic targets

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SummarySjögren's syndrome (SS) is an autoimmune disease characterized by lymphocytic infiltration, destruction of the salivary and lacrimal glands and production of autoantibodies against a variety of cellular proteins. The aberrant immune response against these autoantigens may begin or extend to other proteins that are not yet defined. Several studies have shown that autoantibody production is taking place in the affected salivary glands. In the present study, using proteomic approaches, we aimed to: (a) identify new autoantigens in the salivary glands of primary SS (pSS) patients and (b) evaluate the epigenetic changes of known autoantigens. Total parotid gland extracts of pSS patients were analysed using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, sodium dodecyl sulphate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and immunoblot with pSS patients' sera or purified autoantibodies and immunoprecipitation using homologous IgG. Identification of the unknown proteins was performed using mass spectrometry (MS). Immunoblot analysis on two-dimensional gels using purified anti-La/SSB antibodies revealed that pSS salivary glands contain high levels of post-translationally modified La/SSB autoantigen, while the native form of the protein is recognized faintly, in contrast to normal controls. Moreover, salivary glands of pSS patients contain post-translationally modified actin that becomes immunogenic in the microenviroment of the affected tissue. The alteration of the physicochemical properties of self-proteins could thus contribute to the break of immune tolerance against them.

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