Objective This study was undertaken to determine the molecular characteristics of clonotypic autoantibodies in the sera of patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome (SS). This characterization is hampered by the presence of mixed anti-Ro/La specificities that may conceal clonotypic species. In order to narrow clonotypic diversity, a positive selection step was performed on a peg-like determinant of Ro 60 (termed Ro 60-peg) prior to analysis of the autoantibody proteome. Methods Monospecific anti-Ro 60-peg IgG were isolated by affinity purification from the sera of 7 patients with primary SS and anti-Ro/La and subjected to 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis and high-resolution orbitrap mass spectrometric sequencing. V regions of heavy and light chains were analyzed by combined database and de novo amino acid sequencing. Results Proteomic analysis revealed a Ro 60-peg-specific IgG1Iκ-restricted monoclonal autoantibody that was present in the sera of all patients and specified by a VH3-23 heavy chain paired with a V Iκ3-20 light chain. The public anti-Ro 60-peg clonotype was specified further by common mutations in the heavy-chain and light-chain complementarity-determining regions. Titers and relative affinities of clonotypic IgG did not vary over the course of the disease. Conclusion The expression of a Ro 60-reactive public B cell clonotype in a subset of patients with primary SS as a long-lived, class-switched circulating autoantibody implies a common breach of B cell tolerance checkpoints in these patients. The unique heavy chain/light chain signature opens the possibility of tracking the development of a "forbidden" clone against a bona fide systemic autoantigen in human disease.
Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.