Autoantibodies directed against cytoplasmic antigens of neutrophils (ANCA), especially proteinase 3 (C-ANCA), have proved to be a useful clinical tool to support the diagnosis or to monitor disease activity in Wegener's granulomatosis (WG). Till now, human neutrophil granulocytes have represented the major antigen source used to detect antibodies in WG by the immunofluorescence technique (IFT). We have tested serum samples of 164 patients with different connective tissue diseases (50)suffering from clinically active WG) performing IFT on a human renal cancer line (SK-RC11) and have found antibodies against the nuclear and cytoplasmic antigens in 39 patients. C-ANCA+ sera displayed a characteristic diffuse cytoplasmic staining pattern. Antibody titers measured with human granulocytes were comparable to titers obtained using culture cells. Antibody binding could be inhibited by preabsorption with an extract of human granulocytes or purified proteinase 3. A protein of 29 kDa MW could be isolated by affinity purification using a SK-RC11 extract and a high-titer C-ANCA+ serum and antigenic identity was further confirmed by IFT using a monoclonal antibody to proteinase 3. Treatment of tumor cells with cytokines (interferon, tumor necrosis factor) led to a time dependent translocation of the antigen into the nucleus and back to the cytoplasm. The antigen was also expressed on the surface of live cells colocalized with MHC II. In addition, 21 WG patients had antibodies to cytoplasmic organelles identified by laser scanning microscopy as secretory vesicles of the Golgi complex, and five had antibodies to nuclear antigens. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first report of proteinase 3 in human non-leukemic cells. Our data demonstrate, that the repertoire of antigens recognized by antibodies in WG sera is not limited to human neutrophils and monocytes and indicates a possible functional role of the antigenic proteins.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)