Journal of neuroimmunology vol:141 issue:1-2 pages:47-57
The small heat shock protein alphaB-crystallin is considered as a candidate autoantigen in multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions. Gelatinase B or matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 is a proteinase establishing various disease-promoting feedback loops in autoimmune diseases. Human alphaB-crystallin was digested with natural gelatinase B and all cleavage sites were identified by a combined approach of mass spectrometry and peptide sequencing analysis. Previously identified immunodominant and cryptic epitopes of alphaB-crystallin in mice and rats were generated and largely left intact by MMP-9 processing. The alphaB-crystallin peptide 1-16, generated as a remnant epitope, provoked a significant T cell response in alphaB-crystallin knockout mice. None of the remnant peptides was encephalitogenic when injected intracerebrally into mice or induced MMP-9 in vitro. Gelatinase B is thus able to release T cell epitopes from intact alphaB-crystallin, but their pathogenic role remains unclear.