Bioinformatic and immunological analysis reveals lack of support for measles virus related mimicry in Crohn's disease
AuthorPolymeros, D.; Tsiamoulos, Z. P.; Koutsoumpas, A. L.; Smyk, D. S.; Mytilinaiou, M. G.; Triantafyllou, K.; Bogdanos, D. P.; Ladas, S. D.
Background: A link between measles virus and Crohn's disease (CD) has been postulated. We assessed through bioinformatic and immunological approaches whether measles is implicated in CD induction, through molecular mimicry. Methods: The BLAST2p program was used to identify amino acid sequence similarities between five measles virus and 56 intestinal proteins. Antibody responses to measles/human mimics were tested by an in-house ELISA using serum samples from 50 patients with CD, 50 with ulcerative colitis (UC), and 38 matched healthy controls (HCs). Results: We identified 15 sets of significant (>70%) local amino acid homologies from two measles antigens, hemagglutinin-neuraminidase and fusion-glycoprotein, and ten human intestinal proteins. Reactivity to at least one measles 15 meric mimicking peptide was present in 27 out of 50 (54%) of patients with CD, 24 out of 50 (48%) with UC (CD versus UC, p = 0.68), and 13 out of 38 (34.2%) HCs (CD versus HC, p = 0.08). Double reactivity to at least one measles/human pair was present in four out of 50 (8%) patients with CD, three out of 50 (6%) with UC (p = 0.99), and in three out of 38 (7.9%) HCs (p>0.05 for all). Titration experiments yielded different extinction curves for anti-measles and anti-human intestinal double-reactive antibodies. Epitope prediction algorithms and three-dimensional modeling provided bioinformatic confirmation for the observed antigenicity of the main measles virus epitopic regions. Conclusions: Measles sequences mimicking intestinal proteins are frequent targets of antibody responses in patients with CD, but this reactivity lacks disease specificity and does not initiate cross-reactive responses to intestinal mimics. We conclude that there is no involvement of measles/human molecular mimicry in the etiopathogenesis of CD.