This subproject is one of many research subprojects utilizing the resources provided by a Center grant funded by NIH/NCRR. Primary support for the subproject and the subproject's principal investigator may have been provided by other sources, including other NIH sources. The Total Cost listed for the subproject likely represents the estimated amount of Center infrastructure utilized by the subproject, not direct funding provided by the NCRR grant to the subproject or subproject staff. In the United States, a small percentage of persons infected with the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) develop a chronic arthritis that is refractory to antibiotic treatment. This condition can last for months to years despite apparent eradication of the spirochete. Antibiotic treatment refractory Lyme arthritis is associated with the MHC class II alleles HLA-DR*0401 and HLA-DR*0101, which suggests that the host response to Bb is important in disease progression. The goal of this project is to determine which Bb protein-derived peptides are presented by the disease susceptibility MHC class II alleles. We have established HLA-DR*0401 and *0101 homozygous cell lines from Lyme arthritis patients for use as antigen-presenting cells in cell culture. These cells are incubated with recombinant Bb proteins or Bb whole cell sonicates. HLA-DR-peptide conjugates are immunopurified using anti-HLA-DR antibodies. Peptides are acid eluted, separated by centrifugal ultrafiltration, and purified by C18 solid-phase exraction. Purified peptides are identified by LC-MS/MS analysis followed by database searching. As a test of our methods, we have purified peptides from HLA-DR*0401 cells incubated in media alone. LC-MS/MS analysis identified numerous self-derived peptides as well as some serum-derived peptides. These results indicate that our methods are working well and we have proceeded to study Bb proteins. We have anakyzed synovial tissue from 2 controls who have arthritis but not Lyme disease and from 2 Lyme disease patients. The antigen-presented peptides were identified using MS databases and the results for the four patients were compared to one another to identify epitopes that may be characteristic for the Lyme patients and for the arthritis patients, and to determine whether there are allele-specific peptides. Rigorous criteria were imposed to assure high reliability in the assignments. Some peptides were found to bear post-translational modifications and the appropriately modified peptides are being synthesized for immunological testing. Ther esults were recently published in Molecular and Cellular Proteomics. Current studies are evaluating the response of patient cells to candidate antigens identified in the initial investigation;further patient samples are being analyzed.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
Biotechnology Resource Grants (P41)
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