Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Program, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, USA.
Objectives: The structural domains of Ro52, termed the RING, B-box, coiled coil (CC) and B30.2/SPRY are targets of anti-Ro52 in multiple autoimmune disorders. In Sjögren's syndrome patients, the presence of anti-Ro52 is associated with higher disease severity, and in mice, they induce salivary gland hypofunction. This study was undertaken to investigate whether immune responses against different domains of Ro52, influences salivary gland disease in mice.
Methods: Female NZM2758 mice were immunised with Ro52 domains expressed as recombinant fusion proteins with maltose binding protein (MBP) [MBP-RING-B-box, MBP-CC, MBP-CC(ΔC19), MBP-B30.2/SPRY]. Sera from immunised mice were studied for IgG antibodies to Ro52 by immunoprecipitation, and to salivary gland cells by immunofluorescence. Pilocarpine-induced saliva production was measured to evaluate salivary gland function. Submandibular glands were investigated by histopathology for inflammation and by immune-histochemistry for IgG deposition.
Results: Mice immunised with different Ro52-domains had comparable reactivity to Ro52 and to salivary gland cells. However, only mice immunised with the CC domain and its C-terminal truncated version CC(ΔC19) showed a significant drop in saliva production. None of the mice developed severe salivary gland inflammation. The salivary gland hypofunction significantly correlated with increased intra-lobar IgG deposits in the submandibular salivary glands.
Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that epitope specificity of anti-Ro52 antibodies plays a critical role in the induction of glandular dysfunction. Clearly, screening Sjögren's syndrome patients for relative levels of Ro52 domain specific antibodies will be more informative for associating anti-Ro52 with clinical measures of the disorder.