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2.  Antiphospholipase A2 Receptor Autoantibodies: A Comparison of Three Different Immunoassays for the Diagnosis of Idiopathic Membranous Nephropathy 
Journal of Immunology Research  2014;2014:143274.
Background. The recent identification of circulating autoantibodies directed towards the M-type phospholipase A2 receptor (PLA2R) has been a major advancement in the serological diagnosis of idiopathic membranous nephropathy (IMN), a common cause of nephrotic syndrome in adults. The goal of this study was to compare the performance characteristics of two commercial assays as well as the first addressable laser bead immunoassay (ALBIA) developed for the detection of anti-PLA2R antibodies. Methods. Serum samples of 157 IMN patients and 142 controls were studied. Samples were tested by a cell based immunofluorescence assay (CBA-IFA, Euroimmun, Germany), by ELISA (Euroimmun), and by a novel ALBIA employing an in vivo expressed recombinant human PLA2R. Results. Overall, the three assays showed significant qualitative and quantitative correlation. As revealed by receiver operating characteristic analysis, the ALBIA correlated better with the CBA-IFA than the ELISA (P = 0.0003). The clinical sensitivities/specificities for IMN were 60.0% (51.0–68.5%)/98.6% (95.0–99.8%) and 56.2% (47.2–64.8%)/100.0% (97.4–100.0%) for ALBIA and CBA-IFA, respectively. Conclusion. The ALBIA represents a promising assay for the detection of anti-PLA2R antibodies showing similar performance to the CBA-IFA and the advantage of ease of use and suitability for high throughput, rapid turnaround times, and multiplexing.
PMCID: PMC4000632  PMID: 24812637
3.  The Spectrum of Anti-Chromatin/Nucleosome Autoantibodies: Independent and Interdependent Biomarkers of Disease 
Journal of Immunology Research  2014;2014:368274.
Autoantibodies directed to chromatin components date back to the discovery of the LE cell and the LE cell phenomenon circa 1950, and subsequent evidence that major components of that reaction were chromatin components and histones in particular. Over time, immunoassays ranging from ELISA and line immunoassays to more modern bead-based assays incorporated histone and DNA mixtures, purified histones, and purified nucleosomes leading to a more thorough understanding of the genesis and pathogenetic relationships of antibodies to chromatin components in systemic lupus erythematosus and other autoimmune conditions. More recently, interest has focussed on other components of chromatin such as high mobility group (HMG) proteins both as targets of B cell responses and pro-inflammatory mediators. This review will focus on immunoassays that utilize chromatin components, their clinical relationships, and newer evidence implicating HMG proteins and DNA neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) as important players in systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3996305  PMID: 24804269
4.  Anti-Fibrillarin Antibody in African American Patients with Systemic Sclerosis: Immunogenetics, Clinical Features, and Survival Analysis 
The Journal of rheumatology  2011;38(8):1622-1630.
Anti-U3-RNP or anti-fibrillarin antibodies (AFA) are detected more frequently among African American (AA) patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) compared to other ethnic groups and are associated with distinct clinical features. The current study examines the immunogenetic, clinical, and survival correlates of AFA in a large group of AA patients with SSc.
Overall, 278 AA SSc patients and 328 unaffected AA controls were enrolled from three North American cohorts. Clinical features, autoantibody profile, and HLA-class-II genotyping were captured. To compare the clinical manifestations, relevant clinical features were adjusted for disease duration. The Cox proportional hazards regression was used to determine the effect of AFA on survival.
Fifty (18.5%) AA patients had AFA. After Bonferroni correction, HLA-DRB1*08:04 was associated with AFA, compared to unaffected AA controls (OR=11.5, p<0.0001) and AFA negative SSc patients (OR=5.2, p=0.0002). AFA positive AA patients had younger age of disease onset, higher frequency of digital ulcers, diarrhea, pericarditis, higher Medsger Perivascular and lower Lung Severity Indices (p=0.004, p=0.014, p=0.019, p=0.092, p=0.006, and p=0.016, respectively). After adjustment for age at enrollment, AFA positive patients did not have different survival compared with patients without AFA (p=0.493).
These findings demonstrate strong association between AFA and HLA-DRB1*08:04 allele in AA patients with SSc. Moreover, AA SSc patients with AFA had younger age of onset, higher frequency of digital ulcers, pericarditis, and severe lower gastrointestinal involvement, but less severe lung involvement compared to AA patients without AFA. However, presence of AFA did not change survival.
PMCID: PMC3149738  PMID: 21572159
Scleroderma; GENISOS; anti-U3-RNP; digital ulcer; HLA DRB1; and Scleroderma Family Registry
5.  Mammalian microtubule P-body dynamics are mediated by nesprin-1 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2014;205(4):457-475.
Nesprin-1 is a multi-functional processing body component and microtubule scaffold that is necessary for RNA granule dynamics.
Nesprins are a multi-isomeric family of spectrin-repeat (SR) proteins, predominantly known as nuclear envelope scaffolds. However, isoforms that function beyond the nuclear envelope remain poorly examined. Here, we characterize p50Nesp1, a 50-kD isoform that localizes to processing bodies (PBs), where it acts as a microtubule-associated protein capable of linking mRNP complexes to microtubules. Overexpression of dominant-negative p50Nesp1 caused Rck/p54, but not GW182, displacement from microtubules, resulting in reduced PB movement and cross talk with stress granules (SGs). These cells disassembled canonical SGs induced by sodium arsenite, but not those induced by hydrogen peroxide, leading to cell death and revealing PB–microtubule attachment is required for hydrogen peroxide-induced SG anti-apoptotic functions. Furthermore, p50Nesp1 was required for miRNA-mediated silencing and interacted with core miRISC silencers Ago2 and Rck/p54 in an RNA-dependent manner and with GW182 in a microtubule-dependent manner. These data identify p50Nesp1 as a multi-functional PB component and microtubule scaffold necessary for RNA granule dynamics and provides evidence for PB and SG micro-heterogeneity.
PMCID: PMC4033771  PMID: 24862572
6.  PR3-ANCA: A Promising Biomarker in Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112877.
Background and Aims
The only recognized biomarker for primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is atypical anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (aANCA), which, in addition to having low sensitivity and specificity, is an indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) test lacking the advantages of high throughput and objectivity. Recent reports have shown that antibodies to proteinase-3 (PR3-ANCA) might add diagnostic value in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), specifically in ulcerative colitis (UC). As PSC is associated with IBD, the objective of this study was to evaluate the frequency and clinical significance of PR3-ANCA in a large cohort of patients.
A total of 244 PSC and 254 control [autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), hepatitis C viral infection (HCV), hepatitis B viral infection (HBV), and healthy controls] sera and their clinical correlations were retrospectively analyzed for PR3-ANCA determined by ELISA and a new chemiluminescence immunoassay (CIA). Testing was also performed for aANCA by IIF.
When measured by CIA, PR3-ANCA was detected in 38.5% (94/244) of PSC patients compared to 10.6% (27/254) controls (p<0.0001). By ELISA, PR3-ANCA was detected in 23.4% (57/244) of PSC patients compared to 2.7% (6/254) controls (p<0.0001). PR3-ANCA in PSC patients was not associated with the presence or type of underlying IBD, and, in fact, it was more frequent in Crohn's disease (CD) patients with PSC than previously reported in CD alone. PR3-ANCA in PSC measured by CIA correlated with higher liver enzymes.
PR3-ANCA is detected in a significant proportion of PSC patients compared to other liver diseases including PBC and AIH. PR3-ANCA is associated with higher liver enzyme levels in PSC, and is not solely related to underlying IBD.
PMCID: PMC4232573  PMID: 25397578
7.  B cell depletion with rituximab in patients with diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(2):578-583.
This study was designed to determine safety, to provide preliminary data regarding potential efficacy and to investigate the effects on autoimmunity and fibrosis of rituximab in patients with diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis (dcSSc).
Fifteen patients with dcSSc, having their first non-Raynaud's associated disease manifestation within 18 months of trial entry, were recruited to receive two intravenous doses of 1000 mg rituximab two weeks apart. Safety, clinical, and exploratory outcomes were evaluated at baseline and at 6 months. The primary outcome was the change in modified Rodnan skin score (mRSS) at 6 months compared to baseline.
Adverse events included frequent infusion reactions and rare infections (urinary tract infection and dental abscess, each in one patient). Mean mRSS change was not significantly different between baseline (20.6) and 6-months (20.2). Pulmonary function tests and other measures of major organ involvement were stable. Modest B cell infiltrates present in most skin biopsies at baseline were completely depleted at 6-months in most subjects. Autoantibody titers showed only modest and variable changes after treatment.
In this pilot study, treatment with rituximab appeared to be safe and well-tolerated among patients with dcSSc. Rituximab resulted in both depletion of circulating B cells and depletion of dermal B cells but had little effect on levels of SSc-associated autoantibodies. Rituximab did not appear to result in a significant beneficial effect on skin disease; the potential efficacy in other organs such as the lung could not be clearly evaluated in this small open label trial.
PMCID: PMC2637937  PMID: 19180481
10.  Ultrastructural characterization of primary cilia in pathologically characterized human glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) tumors 
Primary cilia are non-motile sensory cytoplasmic organelles that are involved in cell cycle progression. Ultrastructurally, the primary cilium region is complex, with normal ciliogenesis progressing through five distinct morphological stages in human astrocytes. Defects in early stages of ciliogenesis are key features of astrocytoma/glioblastoma cell lines and provided the impetus for the current study which describes the morphology of primary cilia in molecularly characterized human glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) tumors.
Seven surgically resected human GBM tissue samples were molecularly characterized according to IDH1/2 mutation status, EGFR amplification status and MGMT promoter methylation status and were examined for primary cilia expression and structure using indirect immunofluorescence and electron microscopy.
We report for the first time that primary cilia are disrupted in the early stages of ciliogenesis in human GBM tumors. We confirm that immature primary cilia and basal bodies/centrioles have aberrant ciliogenesis characteristics including absent paired vesicles, misshaped/swollen vesicular hats, abnormal configuration of distal appendages, and discontinuity of centriole microtubular blades. Additionally, the transition zone plate is able to form in the absence of paired vesicles on the distal end of the basal body and when a cilium progresses beyond the early stages of ciliogenesis, it has electron dense material clumped along the transition zone and a darkening of the microtubules at the proximal end of the cilium.
Primary cilia play a role in a variety of human cancers. Previously primary cilia structure was perturbed in cultured cell lines derived from astrocytomas/glioblastomas; however there was always some question as to whether these findings were a cell culture phenomena. In this study we confirm that disruptions in ciliogenesis at early stages do occur in GBM tumors and that these ultrastructural findings bear resemblance to those previously observed in cell cultures. This is the first study to demonstrate that defects in cilia expression and function are a true hallmark of GBM tumors and correlate with their unrestrained growth. A review of the current ultrastructural profiles in the literature provides suggestions as to the best possible candidate protein that underlies defects in the early stages of ciliogenesis within GBM tumors.
PMCID: PMC4164667  PMID: 25228849
Primary cilia; Ciliogenesis; Cilium-pit; Centriole; Basal body; Distal appendages; Glioblastoma multiforme; EGFR amplification; IDH1/2 mutation; MGMT promoter methylation
11.  Prevalence of Anti-Peptidylarginine Deiminase Type 4 Antibodies in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Unaffected First-Degree Relatives in Indigenous North American Populations 
The Journal of rheumatology  2013;40(9):1523-1528.
The objective of this study was to determine whether anti-peptidylarginine deiminase type 4 (PAD4) antibodies were present in first-degree relatives of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients in two indigenous North American populations with high prevalence of RA.
Participants were recruited from two indigenous populations in Canada and the United States, including RA patients (probands), their unaffected first-degree relatives, and healthy unrelated controls. Sera were tested for the presence of anti-PAD4 antibodies, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) antibodies, and rheumatoid factor (RF). HLA-DRB1 subtyping was performed and participants were classified according to number of shared epitope alleles present.
Antibodies to PAD4 were detected in 24 of 82 (29.3%) probands; 2 of 147 (1.4%) relatives; and no controls (p <0.0001). Anti-CCP was present in 39/144 (27.1%) of the relatives, and there was no overlap between positivity for anti-CCP and PAD4 in the relatives. In RA patients, anti-PAD4 antibodies were associated with disease duration (p=0.0082) and anti-CCP antibodies (p=0.008), but not smoking or shared epitope alleles.
Despite a significant prevalence of anti-CCP in first-degree relatives, anti-PAD4 antibodies were almost exclusively found in established RA. The prevalence of anti-PAD4 antibodies in RA is similar to the prevalence described in other populations and these autoantibodies are associated with disease duration and anti-CCP in RA.
PMCID: PMC3969032  PMID: 23908443
Arthritis; Rheumatoid; Autoantibodies; peptidylarginine deiminase
12.  Systemic Sclerosis Immunoglobulin Induces Growth and a Pro-Fibrotic State in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells through the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100035.
It has been suggested that autoantibodies in systemic sclerosis (SSc) may induce the differentiation of cultured fibroblasts into myofibroblasts through platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) activation. The present study aims to characterize the effects of SSc IgG on vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) and to determine if stimulatory autoantibodies directed to the PDGFR can be detected, and whether they induce a profibrotic response in primary cultured VSMCs.
Cultured VSMCs were exposed to IgG fractions purified from SSc-patient or control sera. VSMC responses were then analyzed for ERK1/2 and Akt phosphorylation, PDGFR immunoprecipitation, cellular proliferation, protein synthesis, and pro-fibrotic changes in mRNA expression.
Stimulatory activity in IgG fractions was more prevalent and intense in the SSc samples. SSc IgG immunoprecipitated the PDGFR with greater avidity than control IgG. Interestingly, activation of downstream signaling events (e.g. Akt, ERK1/2) was independent of PDGFR activity, but required functional EGFR. We also detected increased protein synthesis in response to SSc IgG (p<0.001) and pro-fibrotic changes in gene expression (Tgfb1 +200%; Tgfb2 −23%; p<0.001)) in VSMCs treated with SSc IgG.
When compared to control IgG, SSc IgG have a higher stimulation index in VSMCs. Although SSc IgG interact with the PDGFR, the observed remodeling signaling events occur through the EGFR in VSMC. Our data thus favour a model of transactivation of the EGFR by SSc-derived PDGFR autoantibodies and suggest the use of EGFR inhibitors in future target identification studies in the field of SSc.
PMCID: PMC4057313  PMID: 24927197
13.  Current Concepts and Future Directions for the Assessment of Autoantibodies to Cellular Antigens Referred to as Anti-Nuclear Antibodies 
Journal of Immunology Research  2014;2014:315179.
The detection of autoantibodies that target intracellular antigens, commonly termed anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA), is a serological hallmark in the diagnosis of systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARD). Different methods are available for detection of ANA and all bearing their own advantages and limitations. Most laboratories use the indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) assay based on HEp-2 cell substrates. Due to the subjectivity of this diagnostic platform, automated digital reading systems have been developed during the last decade. In addition, solid phase immunoassays using well characterized antigens have gained widespread adoption in high throughput laboratories due to their ease of use and open automation. Despite all the advances in the field of ANA detection and its contribution to the diagnosis of SARD, significant challenges persist. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the current status on ANA testing including automated IIF reading systems and solid phase assays and suggests an approach to interpretation of results and discusses meeting the problems of assay standardization and other persistent challenges.
PMCID: PMC4020446  PMID: 24868563
14.  Clinical and Serological Features of Patients Referred through a Rheumatology Triage System because of Positive Antinuclear Antibodies 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93812.
The referral of patients with positive anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) tests has been criticized as an inappropriate use of medical resources. The utility of a positive ANA test in a central triage (CT) system was studied by determining the autoantibody profiles and clinical diagnoses of patients referred to rheumatologists through a CT system because of a positive ANA test.
Patients that met three criteria were included: (1) referred to Rheumatology CT over a three year interval; (2) reason for referral was a “positive ANA”; (3) were evaluated by a certified rheumatologist. The CT clinical database was used to obtain demographic and clinical information and a serological database was used to retrieve specific ANA and/or extractable nuclear antigen (ENA) test results. Clinical information was extracted from the consulting rheumatologist's report.
15,357 patients were referred through the CT system; 643 (4.1%) of these because of a positive ANA and of these 263 (40.9%) were evaluated by a certified rheumatologist. In 63/263 (24%) of ANA positive patients, the specialist provided a diagnosis of an ANA associated rheumatic disease (AARD) while 69 (26.2%) had no evidence of any disease; 102 (38.8%) had other rheumatologic diagnoses and 29 (11%) had conditions that did not meet AARD classification criteria. Of ANA positive archived sera, 15.1% were anti-DFS70 positive and 91.2% of these did not have an AARD.
This is the first study to evaluate the serological and clinical features of patients referred through a CT system because of a positive ANA. The spectrum of autoantibody specificities was wide with anti-Ro52/TRIM21 being the most common autoantibody detected. Approximately 15% of referrals had only antibodies to DFS70, the vast majority of which did not have clinical evidence for an AARD. These findings provide insight into the utility of autoantibody testing in a CT system.
PMCID: PMC3976309  PMID: 24705829
15.  Rpp25 is a major target of autoantibodies to the Th/To complex as measured by a novel chemiluminescent assay 
Autoantibodies to the Th/To antigen have been described in systemic sclerosis (SSc) and several proteins of the macromolecular Th/To complex have been reported to react with anti-Th/To antibodies. However, anti-Th/To has not been clinically utilized due to unavailability of commercial tests. The objective of the present study is to evaluate the newly developed ELISA and chemiluminescent immunoassay (CLIA) to measure autoantibodies to Rpp25 (a component of the Th/To complex) using immunoprecipitation (IP) as the reference method.
The first cohort consisted of 123 SSc patients including 7 anti-Th/To positive samples confirmed by IP. Additional seven anti-Th/To positive samples from non-SSc patients were also tested. For evaluation of the QUANTA Flash Rpp25 CLIA (research use only), 8 anti-Th/To IP positives, a cohort of 70 unselected SSc patients and sera from various disease controls (n = 357) and random healthy individuals (n = 10) were studied.
Anti-Rpp25 antibodies determined by ELISA were found in 11/14 anti-Th/To IP positive but only in 1/156 (0.6%) negative samples resulting in a positive percent agreement of 78.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] 49.2, 95.3%) and a negative percent agreement of 99.4% (95% CI 96.4, 100.0%). To verify the results using a second method, 53 samples were tested by ELISA and CLIA for anti-Rpp25 reactivity and the results were highly correlated (rho = 0.71, 95% CI 0.56, 0.81; P < 0.0001). To define the cutoff of the CLIA, anti-Th/To IP positive and negative sera were tested using the anti-Rpp25 CLIA. At the cutoff selected by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis 8/8 (100.0%) of the anti-Th/To positive sera but only 2/367 (0.5%) of the controls were positive for anti-Rpp25 antibodies. The positive and negative percent agreements were 100.0% (95% CI 63.1, 100.0%) and 99.5% (95% CI 98.0, 99.9%), respectively. In the disease cohorts 2/70 (2.9%) of the SSc patients were positive for anti-Rpp25 antibodies compared to 2/367 (0.5%) of the controls (P = 0.032). ROC analysis showed discrimination between SSc patients and controls with an area under the curve value of 0.732 (95% CI 0.655, 0.809).
Rpp25 is a major target of autoantibodies to the Th/To autoantigen complex. Further studies are needed to evaluate the clinical utility of the new assays.
PMCID: PMC3672760  PMID: 23587095
16.  Clinical associations and potential novel antigenic targets of autoantibodies directed against rods and rings in chronic hepatitis C infection 
BMC Gastroenterology  2013;13:50.
Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is frequently associated with extrahepatic autoimmune disorders while interferon (IFN) and ribavirin treatment may exacerbate these conditions. Autoantibodies from HCV patients identify a novel indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) pattern on HEp-2 cells characterized by cytoplasmic rods and rings (RR). Our objectives were to determine the prevalence and clinical associations of RR autoantibodies in HCV patients, and identify related novel autoantibody targets.
Sera from 315 patients with HCV (301 treatment naive, 14 treated with interferon and/or ribavirin) were analyzed for the presence of RR antibodies by IIF on commercially available HEp-2 cell substrates. Antibodies to inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase 2 (IMPDH2) and cytidine triphosphate synthase 1 (CTPS1) were detected by addressable laser bead assay and other potential targets were identified by immunoscreening a protein microarray. Clinical and demographic data including HCV genotype, mode of infection, prior antiviral therapy, and histological findings were compared between RR antibody positive (RR+) and negative (RR-) patients.
The median age of the HCV cohort was 51 years, 61% were male, and 76% were infected with HCV genotype 1 (G1). Four percent (n=14) had been treated with IFN-based therapy (IFN monotherapy, n=3; IFN/ribavirin, n=11); all had a sustained virologic response. In total, 15 patients (5% of the cohort) were RR+. RR+ and RR- patients had similar demographic and clinical characteristics including age, sex, mode of HCV infection, prevalence of the G1 HCV genotype, and moderate to severe fibrosis. Nevertheless, RR+ patients were significantly more likely than RR- cases to have been treated with IFN-based therapy (33% vs. 3%; adjusted odds ratio 20.5 [95% confidence interval 5.1-83.2]; P<0.0005). Only 1/10 RR positive sera had detectable antibodies to IMPHD2 and none had antibodies to CTPS1. Potentially important autoantibody targets identified on protein arrays included Myc-associated zinc finger protein (MAZI) and ankyrin repeat motif.
The majority of HCV patients with RR autoantibodies previously received IFN/ribavirin antiviral therapy. Further studies are necessary to determine the genesis of intracellular RR and elucidate the clinically relevant autoantigens as well as the clinical and prognostic significance of their cognate autoantibodies.
PMCID: PMC3606316  PMID: 23506439
17.  Clinical Phenotypes of Patients with Anti-DFS70/LEDGF Antibodies in a Routine ANA Referral Cohort 
Objective. To analyze the clinical value of anti-DFS70 antibodies in a cohort of patients undergoing routine antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) testing. Methods. Sera with a dense fine speckled (DFS) indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) pattern from 100 consecutive patients and 100 patients with other IIF patterns were tested for anti-DFS70 antibodies by a novel chemiluminescence immunoassay (CIA) and for ANA by ANA Screen ELISA (both INOVA). Results. Among the 100 patients with a DFS IIF pattern, 91% were anti-DFS70 positive by CIA compared to 3% in the comparator group (P < 0.0001). The CIA and IIF titers of anti-DFS antibodies were highly correlated (rho = 0.89). ANA by ELISA was positive in 35% of patients with the DFS IIF pattern as compared to 67% of patients with other patterns (P < 0.0001). Only 12.0% of patients with DFS pattern and 13.4% with DFS pattern and anti-DFS70 antibodies detected by CIA had systemic autoimmune rheumatic disease (SARD). Only 5/91 (5.5%) patients with anti-DFS70 antibodies had SARD and their sera were negative on the ANA Screen ELISA. Conclusion. Although anti-DFS70 antibodies cannot exclude the presence of SARD, the likelihood is significantly lower than in patients with other IIF patterns and should be included in test algorithms for ANA testing.
PMCID: PMC3580898  PMID: 23476678
18.  The Clinical Significance of the Dense Fine Speckled Immunofluorescence Pattern on HEp-2 Cells for the Diagnosis of Systemic Autoimmune Diseases 
Antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) are a serological hallmark in the diagnosis of systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARD). The indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) assay on HEp-2 cells is a commonly used test for the detection of ANA and has been recently recommended as the screening test of choice by a task force of the American College of Rheumatology. However, up to 20% of apparently healthy individuals (HI) have been reported to have a positive IIF ANA test, primarily related to autoantibodies that target the dense fine speckles 70 (DFS70) antigen. Even more important, the DFS IIF pattern has been reported in up to 33% of ANA positive HI, but not in ANA positive SARD sera. Since the intended use of the ANA HEp-2 test is to aid in the diagnosis and classification of SARD, the detection and reporting of anti-DFS70 antibodies and their associated pattern (DFS) as a positive test significantly reduce the specificity and the positive likelihood of the ANA test. This has significant implications for medical management and diagnostic algorithms involving the detection of ANA. Recently, a novel immunoadsorption method has been developed that specifically blocks anti-DFS70 antibodies and, therefore, significantly increases the specificity of the ANA test for SARD. This immunoadsorption method has the potential to overcome a significant limitation of the ANA HEp-2 assay. The present paper summarizes the current knowledge about anti-DFS70 antibodies and their clinical impact on ANA testing.
PMCID: PMC3523143  PMID: 23304189
19.  Clinical significance of antibodies to Ro52/TRIM21 in systemic sclerosis 
Autoantibodies to Ro52 recently identified as TRIM21 are among the most common autoantibodies in systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases, but their clinical association remains poorly understood. We undertook this study to determine the clinical and serologic associations of anti-Ro52/TRIM21 antibodies in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Detailed clinical data and sera from 963 patients with SSc enrolled in a multicenter cohort study were collected and entered into a central database. Antibodies to Ro52/TRIM21 and other autoantibodies were detected with an addressable laser-bead immunoassay and different enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) systems. Associations between anti-Ro52/TRIM21 antibodies and clinical and other serologic manifestations of SSc were investigated.
Anti-Ro52/TRIM21 antibodies were present in 20% of SSc patients and overlapped with other main SSc-related antibodies, including anti-centromere (by immunofluorescence and centromere protein (CENP)-A and CENP-B ELISA), anti-topoisomerase I, anti-RNA polymerase III, and anti-Pm/Scl antibodies. Anti-Ro52/TRIM21 antibodies were strongly associated with interstitial lung disease (odds ratio (OR), 1.53; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11 to 2.12; P = 0.0091) and overlap syndrome (OR, 2.06; 95% CI, 1.01 to 4.19; P = 0.0059).
Anti-Ro52/TRIM21 antibodies were the second most common autoantibodies in this SSc cohort. In SSc, anti-Ro52/TRIM21 antibodies may be a marker of interstitial lung disease and overlap syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3446416  PMID: 22394602
20.  Repression of GW/P body components and the RNAi microprocessor impacts primary ciliogenesis in human astrocytes 
BMC Cell Biology  2011;12:37.
In most cells, the centriolar component of the centrosome can function as a basal body supporting the formation of a primary cilium, a non-motile sensory organelle that monitors information from the extracellular matrix and relays stimuli into the cell via associated signaling pathways. Defects in the formation and function of primary cilia underlie multiple human diseases and are hallmarks of malignancy. The RNA silencing pathway is involved in the post-transcriptional silencing of > 50% of mRNA that occurs within GW/P bodies. GW/P bodies are found throughout the cytoplasm and previously published live cell imaging data suggested that in a malignant cell type (U2OS), two GW/P bodies reside at the centrosome during interphase. This led us to investigate if a similar relationship exists in primary cells and if the inhibition of the miRNA pathway impairs primary cilium formation.
Two GW/P bodies as marked by GW182 and hAgo2 colocalized to the basal body of primary human astrocytes as well as human synoviocytes during interphase and specifically with the distal end of the basal body in the pericentriolar region. Since it is technically challenging to examine the two centrosomal GW/P bodies in isolation, we investigated the potential relationship between the global population of GW/P bodies and primary ciliogenesis. Astrocytes were transfected with siRNA directed to GW182 and hAgo2 and unlike control astrocytes, a primary cilium was no longer associated with the centrosome as detected in indirect immunofluorescence assays. Ultrastructural analysis of siRNA transfected astrocytes revealed that knock down of GW182, hAgo2, Drosha and DGCR8 mRNA did not affect the appearance of the earliest stage of ciliogenesis but did prevent the formation and elongation of the ciliary axoneme.
This study confirms and extends a previously published report that GW/P bodies reside at the centrosome in U2OS cells and documents that GW/P bodies are resident at the centrosome in diverse non-malignant cells. Further, our study demonstrates that repression of key effector proteins in the post-transcriptional miRNA pathway impairs primary cilium formation.
PMCID: PMC3179929  PMID: 21880135
centrosome; centriole; basal body; primary cilia; P-bodies; GW182; Ago2; Drosha; DGCR8; siRNA; miRNA
21.  Divergent GW182 functional domains in the regulation of translational silencing 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(7):2534-2547.
MicroRNA (miRNA)-mediated gene regulation has become a major focus in many biological processes. GW182 and its long isoform TNGW1 are marker proteins of GW/P bodies and bind to Argonaute proteins of the RNA induced silencing complex. The goal of this study is to further define and distinguish the repression domain(s) in human GW182/TNGW1. Two non-overlapping regions, Δ12 (amino acids 896–1219) containing the Ago hook and Δ5 (amino acids 1670–1962) containing the RRM, both induced comparable silencing in a tethering assay. Mapping data showed that the RRM and its flanking sequences in Δ5, but not the Ago hook in Δ12, were important for silencing. Repression mediated by Δ5 or Δ12 was not differentially affected when known endogenous repressors RCK/p54, GW182/TNGW1, TNRC6B were depleted. Transfected Δ5, but not Δ12, enhanced Ago2-mediated repression in a tethering assay. Transfected Δ12, but not Δ5, released endogenous miRNA reporter silencing without affecting siRNA function. Alanine substitution showed that GW/WG motifs in Δ12 (Δ12a, amino acids 896–1045) were important for silencing activity. Although Δ12 appeared to bind PABPC1 more efficiently than Δ5, neither Δ5 nor Δ12 significantly enhanced reporter mRNA degradation. These different functional characteristics of Δ5 and Δ12 suggest that their roles are distinct, and possibly dynamic, in human GW182-mediated silencing.
PMCID: PMC3074120  PMID: 21131274
22.  The MicroRNA and MessengerRNA Profile of the RNA-Induced Silencing Complex in Human Primary Astrocyte and Astrocytoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13445.
GW/P bodies are cytoplasmic ribonucleoprotein-rich foci involved in microRNA (miRNA)-mediated messenger RNA (mRNA) silencing and degradation. The mRNA regulatory functions within GW/P bodies are mediated by GW182 and its binding partner hAgo2 that bind miRNA in the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC). To date there are no published reports of the profile of miRNA and mRNA targeted to the RISC or a comparison of the RISC-specific miRNA/mRNA profile differences in malignant and non-malignant cells.
Methodology/Principal Findings
RISC mRNA and miRNA components were profiled by microarray analysis of malignant human U-87 astrocytoma cells and its non-malignant counterpart, primary human astrocytes. Total cell RNA as well as RNA from immunoprecipitated RISC was analyzed. The novel findings were fourfold: (1) miRNAs were highly enriched in astrocyte RISC compared to U-87 astrocytoma RISC, (2) astrocytoma and primary astrocyte cells each contained unique RISC miRNA profiles as compared to their respective cellular miRNA profiles, (3) miR-195, 10b, 29b, 19b, 34a and 455-3p levels were increased and the miR-181b level was decreased in U-87 astrocytoma RISC as compared to astrocyte RISC, and (4) the RISC contained decreased levels of mRNAs in primary astrocyte and U-87 astrocytoma cells.
The observation that miR-34a and miR-195 levels were increased in the RISC of U-87 astrocytoma cells suggests an oncogenic role for these miRNAs. Differential regulation of mRNAs by specific miRNAs is evidenced by the observation that three miR34a-targeted mRNAs and two miR-195-targeted mRNAs were downregulated while one miR-195-targeted mRNA was upregulated. Biological pathway analysis of RISC mRNA components suggests that the RISC plays a pivotal role in malignancy and other conditions. This study points to the importance of the RISC and ultimately GW/P body composition and function in miRNA and mRNA deregulation in astrocytoma cells and possibly in other malignancies.
PMCID: PMC2956662  PMID: 20976148
23.  Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC), PBC Autoantibodies, and Hepatic Parameter Abnormalities in a Large Population of Systemic Sclerosis Patients 
The Journal of rheumatology  2009;36(10):2250-2256.
To investigate the diagnostic accuracy of antimitochondrial antibodies (AMA), sp100, and gp210 antibodies for primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) in a large population of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc); to examine concordance of these antibodies with subsets of SSc. Further, to assess the association of SSc-related antibodies with hepatic parameter abnormalities.
We obtained medical records to verify the diagnoses of SSc and PBC. Sera from all participants were examined for the presence of SSc- and PBC-related antibodies, as well as for abnormalities in hepatic parameters.
We examined 817 patients with SSc, of whom 16 (2%) had confirmed PBC. The sensitivity and specificity of AMA by a MIT3 ELISA for PBC were 81.3% and 94.6%, respectively. Sp100 had a sensitivity and specificity of 31.3% and 97.4%, respectively, while gp210 had an even lower sensitivity. We were able to detect all PBC cases using AMA(MIT3) and sp100 as a combined marker, resulting in a significantly improved sensitivity of 100% (p = 0.042) with an incremental decrease in specificity to 92.6%. Independent of AMA or sp100 status, there was an association of anticentromere B (CENP-B) and anti-topoisomerase antibodies (ATA) with higher alkaline phosphatase levels (p = 0.051 and p = 0.003, respectively) while anti-RNA polymerase III (anti-RNAP) was associated with lower alkaline phosphatase levels (p = 0.019) among the patients with SSc.
Utilization of AMA(MIT3) and sp100 antibodies as a combined diagnostic marker leads to an improved detection of PBC in patients with SSc. CENP-B and ATA are associated with alkaline phosphatase elevation.
PMCID: PMC2885441  PMID: 19723904
24.  Predictors of interstitial lung disease in early systemic sclerosis: a prospective longitudinal study of the GENISOS cohort 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(5):R166.
The objective of the present study was to examine the association of baseline demographic and clinical characteristics with sequentially obtained measurements of forced vital capacity (FVC), expressed as a percentage of the predicted value, and to identify predictors of the decline rate in FVC over time in the Genetics versus Environment in Scleroderma Outcome Study (GENISOS).
To date, 266 patients have been enrolled in GENISOS, a prospective, observational cohort of patients with early systemic sclerosis. In addition to pulmonary function tests (PFTs), clinical and laboratory data were obtained from each patient. We analyzed 926 FVC measurements utilizing generalized linear mixed models. The predictive significance of baseline variables for the decline rate in FVC was investigated by the interaction term between the variable and the follow-up time within the first 3 years after enrollment as well as throughout the entire follow-up time.
The cohort consisted of 125 white, 54 African American, and 77 Hispanic patients with average disease duration of 2.5 years at enrollment. The mean follow-up time was 3.8 years, ranging up to 11.4 years. A number of baseline variables, including antibody status, African American ethnicity, disease type, baseline PFT values, modified Rodnan Skin Score, fibrosis on chest radiograph, and lung and skin subscores of the Severity Index, were associated with serially measured FVC levels. However, only the presence of anti-topoisomerase I antibodies (ATA) was associated with lower FVC levels (P < 0.001) as well as accelerated decline rate in FVC within the first 3 years of follow-up (P = 0.02). None of the baseline variables predicted the rate of decline in FVC on long-term follow-up. Patients with rapidly progressive ILD, however, were under-represented in the long-term follow-up group because the accelerated rate of decline in FVC was associated with poor survival (P = 0.001).
Presence of ATA was the only baseline variable associated with differential FVC levels, predicting the rate of decline in FVC within the first 3 years of follow-up. The association of faster decline in FVC with poor survival further emphasizes the need for identification of predictive biomarkers by collection of genetic information and serial blood samples in cohort studies.
PMCID: PMC2990992  PMID: 20813056
25.  Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II alleles, haplotypes and epitopes which confer susceptibility or protection in systemic sclerosis: analyses in 1300 Caucasian, African-American and Hispanic cases and 1000 controls 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2009;69(5):822-827.
To determine human leucocyte antigen-class II (HLA-class II) (DRB1, DQB1, DQA1 and DPB1) alleles, haplotypes and shared epitopes associated with scleroderma (systemic sclerosis (SSc)) and its subphenotypes in a large multi-ethnic US cohort by a case–control association study.
Patients and methods
1300 SSc cases (961 white, 178 black and 161 Hispanic subjects) characterised for clinical skin forms (limited vs diffuse), SSc-specific autoantibodies (anticentromere (ACA), anti-topoisomerase I (ATA), anti-RNA polymerase III (ARA), anti-U3 ribonucleoprotein (fibrillarin)) and others were studied using molecular genotyping. Statistical analyses in SSc itself by ethnicity, gender, skin type and autoantibodies were performed using exact logistic regression modelling for dominant, additive and recessive effects from HLA.
The strongest positive class II associations with SSc in white and Hispanic subjects were the DRB1*1104, DQA1*0501, DQB1*0301 haplotype and DQB1 alleles encoding a non-leucine residue at position 26 (DQB1 26 epi), while the DRB1*0701, DQA1*0201, DQB1*0202 haplotype and DRB1*1501 haplotype were negatively correlated and possibly protective in dominant and recessive models, respectively. These associations did not discriminate between limited and diffuse SSc. SSc in black subjects was associated with DRB1*0804, DQA1*0501, DQB1*0301 alleles. DPB1*1301 showed the highest odds ratio for ATA (OR = 14). Moreover, it showed no linkage disequilibrium or gene interaction with DR/DQ. ACA was best explained by DQB1*0501 and DQB1*26 epi alleles and ARA by DRB1*0404, DRB1*11 and DQB1*03 alleles in white and Hispanic subjects but DRB1*08 in black subjects.
These data indicate unique and multiple HLA-class II effects in SSc, especially on autoantibody markers of different subphenotypes.
PMCID: PMC2916702  PMID: 19596691

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