Sharma RK, Boddul SV, Yoosuf N, Turcinov S, Dubnovitsky A, Kozhukh G, Wermeling F, Kwok WW, Klareskog L, Malmström V
Sci Rep 11 (1) 24512 [2021-12-31; online 2021-12-31]
We aimed to search for common features in the autoreactive T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), focusing on the newly identified candidate antigen citrullinated Tenascin C (cit-TNC). Mononuclear cells from peripheral blood or synovial fluid of eight RA-patients positive for the RA-associated HLA-DRB1*04:01 allele were in-vitro cultured with recently identified citrullinated peptides from Tenascin C. Antigen-specific T cells were isolated using peptide-HLA tetramer staining and subsequently single-cell sequenced for paired alpha/beta TCR analyses by bioinformatic tools. TCRs were re-expressed for further studies of antigen-specificity and T cell responses. Autoreactive T cell lines could be grown out from both peripheral blood and synovial fluid. We demonstrate the feasibility of retrieving true autoreactive TCR sequences by validating antigen-specificity in T cell lines with re-expressed TCRs. One of the Tenascin C peptides, cit-TNC22, gave the most robust T cell responses including biased TCR gene usage patterns. The shared TCR-beta chain signature among the cit-TNC22-specific TCRs was evident in blood and synovial fluid of different patients. The identification of common elements in the autoreactive TCR repertoire gives promise to the possibility of both immune monitoring of the autoimmune components in RA and of future antigen- or TCR-targeted specific intervention in subsets of patients.