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Human Desmocollin 3‒Specific IgG Antibodies Are Pathogenic in a Humanized HLA Class II Transgenic Mouse Model of Pemphigus

      Pemphigus is a potentially lethal autoimmune bullous skin disorder, which is associated with IgG autoantibodies against desmoglein (DSG) 3 and DSG1. Notably, a subset of patients with pemphigus presents with a similar clinical phenotype in the absence of anti-DSG IgG, suggesting the presence of serum IgG reactive with desmosomal components other than DSG1 or DSG3. We and others have previously shown that such patients have serum IgG autoantibodies against desmocollin 3 (DSC3), a component of desmosomes, which induce loss of keratinocyte adhesion ex vivo. Moreover, DSC3 hypomorphic mice show a severe blistering phenotype of the mucous membrane, which is highly characteristic of pemphigus. These findings prompted us to study the induction and regulation of anti-human DSC3 IgG in humanized mice transgenic for HLA-DRB1∗04:02, which is a highly prevalent haplotype in pemphigus. We show that IgG from sera of immunized mice induces acantholysis in a dispase-based keratinocyte dissociation assay through the activation of p38 MAPKs and EGFR. Passive IgG transfer from mice immunized with recombinant human DSC3 into neonates did not induce intraepidermal loss of adhesion presumably owing to the lack of homology between human and mouse DSC3. Ex vivo stimulation of splenocytes from DSC3-immunized mice with human DSC3 leads to a significant proliferative IFN-γ and IL-4 T-cell response, which is restricted by HLA-DR/HLA-DQ. These findings suggest that the induction of pathogenic anti-DSC3 IgG is associated with DSC3-specific T cells that recognize DSC3 in association with HLA-DRB1∗04:02.

      Abbreviations:

      DSC (desmocollin), DSG (desmoglein), ELISpot (enzyme-linked immunospot), hDSC3 (human desmocollin 3), KC (keratinocyte), PV (pemphigus vulgaris), Th (T helper)
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