The MHC-glycopeptide-T cell interaction in collagen induced arthritis : a study using glycopeptides, isosteres and statistical molecular design in a mouse model for rheumatoid arthritis

Abstract: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease affecting approximately 1% of the population in the western world. It is characterised by a tissue specific attack of cartilage in peripheral joints. Collagen induced arthritis (CIA) is one of the most commonly used animal models for (RA), with similar symptoms and histopathology. CIA is induced by immunisation of mice with type II collagen (CII), and the immunodominant part was previously found to be located between residues 256-270. This thesis describes the interaction between the MHC molecule, glycopeptide antigens from CII and the T cells that is essential in development of CIA. The glycopeptide properties for binding to the mouse MHC molecule Aq have been studied, as well as interaction points in the glycopeptide that are critical for stimulation of a T-cell response. The thesis is based on five studies. In the first paper the minimal glycopeptide core, that is required for binding to the Aq molecule while still giving a full T cell response was determined. The second paper studied the roles of amino acid side-chains and a backbone amide bond as T-cell contact points. In the third paper the hydrogen bond donor-acceptor characteristics of the 4-OH galactose hydroxyl group of the glycopeptide was studied in detail. In the fourth paper we established a structure activity relationship (QSAR model) for (glyco)peptide binding to the Aq molecule. Finally, the stereochemical requirements for glycopeptide binding to the Aq molecule and for T-cell recognition was studied in the fifth paper. The study was performed using collagen glycopeptide analogues, which were synthesised on solid phase. Amide bond and hydroxyl group isosteres were introduced for study of hydrogen bond donor-acceptor characteristics. Statistical methods were used to design a representative peptide test set and in establishing a QSAR model. The results give a deeper understanding of the interactions involved in the ternary MHC-glycopeptide-T cell complex. This information contributes to research directed towards finding new treatments for RA.