Peculiar antibody reactivity to human connexin 37 and its microbial mimics in patients with Crohn's disease
AuthorKoutsoumpas, A.; Polymeros, D.; Tsiamoulos, Z.; Smyk, D.; Karamanolis, G.; Triantafyllou, K.; Rigopoulou, E. I.; Forbes, A.; Vergani, D.; Bogdanos, D. P.; Ladas, S. D.
Background/aims: We found that pooled Crohn's disease (CD) sera strongly react with a human gap-junction connexin 37 (Cx37) peptide and tested for anti-Cx37 antibody reactivity in sera from CD patients and controls. We also investigated whether peptide-recognition is due to Cx37/microbial molecular mimicry. Methods: The PSI-BLAST program was used for Cx37(121-135)/microbial alignment. Reactivity to biotinylated human Cx37(121-135) and its microbial mimics was determined by ELISA using sera from 4,4 CD, 30 ulcerative colitis and 28 healthy individuals. Results: Anti-Cx37(121-135) reactivity (1/200 dilution) was present in 30/44 (68%) CD cases and persisted at 1/1000 dilution. Database search shows that Cx37(121-135) contains the -ALTAV- motif which is cross-recognized by diabetes-specific phogrin and enteroviral immunity. Testing of 9 Cx37(121-135)-microbial mimics revealed 57-68% reactivity against human enterovirus C, Lactococcus lactis, coxsackie virus A24 and B4. Anti-Cx37(121-135) was inhibited by itself or the microbial mimics. No reactivity was found against the poliovirus, rubella, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis mimics, or the beta cell phogrin autoantigen. Microbial/Cx37 reactivity was not able to differentiate CD patients from UC or healthy controls, in terms of overall prevalence and antibody titres, but microbial mimics were unable to inhibit reactivity to human Cx37 in the majority of the controls. Conclusions: Sera from CD patients react with connexin 37 and cross-react with specific Cx37-mimicking enteroviral peptides. Microbial/self reactivity can be seen in UC and healthy controls. The lack of responses to other Cx37(121-135) microbial mimics and the inability of the reactive microbes to inhibit reactivity to self is intriguing and warrants further investigation. (C) 2010 European Crohn's and Colitis Organisation. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.