Binding Affinity and Specificity of Neuromyelitis Optica Autoantibodies to Aquaporin-4 M1/M23 Isoforms and Orthogonal Arrays

Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.
Journal of Biological Chemistry (Impact Factor: 4.57). 03/2011; 286(18):16516-24. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M111.227298
Source: PubMed


Autoantibodies against astrocyte water channel aquaporin-4 (AQP4) are highly specific for the neuroinflammatory disease neuromyelitis optica (NMO). We measured the binding of NMO autoantibodies to AQP4 in human astrocyte-derived U87MG cells expressing M1 and/or M23 AQP4, or M23 mutants that do not form orthogonal array of particles (OAPs). Binding affinity was quantified by two-color fluorescence ratio imaging of cells stained with NMO serum or a recombinant monoclonal NMO autoantibody (NMO-rAb), together with a C terminus anti-AQP4 antibody. NMO-rAb titrations showed binding with dissociation constants down to 44 ± 7 nm. Different NMO-rAbs and NMO patient sera showed a wide variation in NMO-IgG binding to M1 versus M23 AQP4. Differences in binding affinity rather than stoichiometry accounted for M1 versus M23 binding specificity, with consistently greater affinity of NMO-IgG binding to M23 than M1 AQP4. Binding and OAP measurements in cells expressing different M1:M23 ratios or AQP4 mutants indicated that the differential binding of NMO-IgG to M1 versus M23 was due to OAP assembly rather than to differences in the M1 versus M23 N termini. Purified Fab fragments of NMO-IgG showed similar patterns of AQP4 isoform binding, indicating that structural changes in the AQP4 epitope upon array assembly, and not bivalent cross-linking of whole IgG, result in the greater binding affinity to OAPs. Our study establishes a quantitative assay of NMO-IgG binding to AQP4 and indicates remarkable, OAP-dependent heterogeneity in NMO autoantibody binding specificity.

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    • "Selective inhibition of early steps in the classical complement pathway is of particular interest because NMO pathogenesis involves NMO-IgG complement effector function in which the antibody Fc region binds C1q to initiate complement activation. We found previously that CDC requires physical clustering of NMO-IgG on astrocytes [27], which is facilitated by the supramolecular assembly of AQP4 molecules in orthogonal arrays of particles [36]. Currently used therapies in NMO, immunosuppressives, B-cell depletion and plasma exchange, do not target the underlying pathogenic events in NMO. "
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    ABSTRACT: Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is an autoimmune demyelinating disease of the central nervous system in which binding of anti-aquaporin-4 (AQP4) autoantibodies (NMO-IgG) to astrocytes causes complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) and inflammation resulting in oligodendrocyte and neuronal injury. There is compelling evidence for a central role of complement in NMO pathogenesis. Here, we evaluated the potential of C1-esterase inhibitor (C1-inh) for complement-targeted therapy of NMO. C1-inh is an anti-inflammatory plasma protein with serine protease inhibition activity that has a broad range of biological activities on the contact (kallikrein), coagulation, fibrinolytic and complement systems. C1-inh is approved for therapy of hereditary angioedema (HAE) and has been studied in a small safety trial in acute NMO relapses (NCT 01759602). In vitro assays of NMO-IgG-dependent CDC showed C1-inh inhibition of human and rat complement, but with predicted minimal complement inhibition activity at a dose of 2000 units in humans. Inhibition of complement by C1-inh was potentiated by ∼10-fold by polysulfated macromolecules including heparin and dextran sulfate. In rats, intravenous C1-inh at a dose 30-fold greater than that approved to treat HAE inhibited serum complement activity by <5%, even when supplemented with heparin. Also, high-dose C1-inh did not reduce pathology in a rat model of NMO produced by intracerebral injection of NMO-IgG. Therefore, although C1r and C1s are targets of C1-inh, our in vitro data with human serum and in vivo data in rats suggest that the complement inhibition activity of C1-inh in serum is too low to confer clinical benefit in NMO.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    • "It has been argued that AQP4-IgG might partly target epitopes formed upon the formation of M23-AQP4 to so-called orthogonal arrays of particles (OAPs) [34]. In fact, a recent study has demonstrated higher AQP4-IgG binding affinity to M23-AQP4 than M1-AQP4 [35]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Neuromyelitis optica (NMO, Devic syndrome) is associated with antibodies to aquaporin-4 (NMO-IgG/AQP4-Ab) in the majority of cases. NMO-IgG/AQP4-Ab seropositivity in patients with NMO and its spectrum disorders has important differential diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic implications. So-called cell-based assays (CBA) are thought to provide the best AQP4-Ab detection rates. To compare directly the AQP4-IgG detection rates of the currently most widely used commercial CBA, which employs cells transfected with a full-length (M1)-human AQP4 DNA in a fashion that allows leaky scanning (LS) and thus expression of M23-AQP4 in addition to M1-AQP, to that of a newly developed CBA from the same manufacturer employing cells transfected with human M23-AQP4-DNA. Results from 368 serum samples that had been referred for routine AQP4-IgG determination and had been tested in parallel in the two assays were compared. Seventy-seven out of 368 samples (20.9%) were positive for NMO-IgG/AQP4-Ab in at least one assay. Of these, 73 (94.8%) were positive in both assays. A single sample (1.3%) was exclusively positive in the novel assay; three samples (3.9%) were unequivocally positive only in the ‘classic’ assay due to high background intensity in the novel assay. Both median fluorescence intensity and background intensity were higher in the new assay. This large study did not reveal significant differences in AQP4-IgG detection rates between the ‘classic’ CBA and a new M23-DNA-based CBA. Importantly, our results largely re-affirm the validity of previous studies that had used the ‘classic’ AQP4-CBA to establish NMO-IgG/AQP4-Ab seropositivity rates in NMO and in a variety of NMO spectrum disorders.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Journal of Neuroinflammation
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    • "Transfection efficiency was always above 90%. Direct green fluorescence labeling of AQP4-expressing cells showed a spotty distribution (Figure  2A), resembling patches of the orthogonal array pattern characteristic of this protein [28,29]. Indirect immunofluorescence reaction of cells with a positive control serum (C+) showed an almost identical distribution of the red fluorescent labeling produced by the anti-human-IgG secondary antibody (Figure  2B) confirming the presence of anti-AQP4 antibodies in the serum. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Cell-based assays for neuromyelitis optica (NMO) diagnosis are the most sensitive and specific methods to detect anti-aquaporin 4 (AQP4) antibodies in serum, but some improvements in their quantitative and specificity capacities would be desirable. Thus the aim of the present work was to develop a sensitive quantitative method for detection of anti-AQP4 antibodies that allows clear diagnosis of NMO and distinction of false labeling produced by natalizumab treatment. Methods Sera from 167 individuals, patients diagnosed with NMO (16), multiple sclerosis (85), optic neuritis (24), idiopathic myelitis (21), or other neurological disorders (13) and healthy controls (8), were used as the primary antibody in an immunofluorescence assay on HEK cells transfected with the M23 isoform of human AQP4 fused with enhanced green fluorescent protein. Cells used were freshly transfected or stored frozen and then thawed just before adding the serum. Results Microscopic observation and fluorescence quantification produced similar results in fresh and frozen samples. Serum samples from patients diagnosed with NMO were 100% positive for anti-AQP4 antibodies, while all the other sera were negative. Using serum from patients treated with natalizumab, a small and unspecific fluorescent signal was produced from all HEK cells, regardless of AQP4 expression. Conclusions Our cell-based double-label fluorescence immunoassay protocol significantly increases the signal specificity and reduces false diagnosis of NMO patients, especially in those receiving natalizumab treatment. Frozen pretreated cells allow faster detection of anti-AQP4 antibodies.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · BMC Neurology
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