by Ida E. Andersson, C. David Andersson, Tsvetelina Batsalova, Balik Dzhambazov, Rikard Holmdahl, Jan Kihlberg, Anna Linusson
The glycopeptide fragment CII259–273 from type II collagen (CII) binds to the murine Aq and human DR4 class II Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC II) proteins, which are associated with development of murine collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), respectively. It has been shown that CII259–273 can be used in therapeutic vaccination of CIA. This glycopeptide also elicits responses from T-cells obtained from RA patients, which indicates that it has an important role in RA as well. We now present a methodology for studies of (glyco)peptide-receptor interactions based on a combination of structure-based virtual screening, ligand-based statistical molecular design and biological evaluations. This methodology included the design of a CII259–273 glycopeptide library in which two anchor positions crucial for binding in pockets of Aq and DR4 were varied. Synthesis and biological evaluation of the designed glycopeptides provided novel structure-activity relationship (SAR) understanding of binding to Aq and DR4. Glycopeptides that retained high affinities for these MHC II proteins and induced strong responses in panels of T-cell hybridomas were also identified. An analysis of all the responses revealed groups of glycopeptides with different response patterns that are of high interest for vaccination studies in CIA. Moreover, the SAR understanding obtained in this study provides a platform for the design of second-generation glycopeptides with tuned MHC affinities and T-cell responses.