An immunodominant La/SSB autoantibody proteome derives from public clonotypes


Correspondence: Professor T. P. Gordon, Department of Immunology, Flinders Medical Centre, Flinders Drive, Bedford Park, SA 5042, Australia.



The La/SSB autoantigen is a major target of long-term humoral autoimmunity in primary Sjögren's Syndrome (SS) and systemic lupus erythematosus. A majority of patients with linked anti-Ro60/Ro52/La responses target an NH2-terminal epitope designated LaA that is expressed on Ro/La ribonucleoprotein complexes and the surface membrane of apoptotic cells. In this study, we used high-resolution Orbitrap mass spectrometry to determine the clonality, isotype and V-region sequences of LaA-specific autoantibodies in seven patients with primary SS. Anti-LaA immunoglobulin (Ig)Gs purified from polyclonal sera by epitope-specific affinity chromatography were analysed by combined database and de-novo mass spectrometric sequencing. Autoantibody responses comprised two heavily mutated IgG1 kappa-restricted monoclonal species that were shared (public) across unrelated patients; one clonotype was specified by an IGHV3-30 heavy chain paired with IGKV3-15 light chain and the second by an IGHV3-43/IGKV3-20 pairing. Shared amino acid replacement mutations were also seen within heavy and light chain complementarity-determining regions, consistent with a common breach of B cell tolerance followed by antigen-driven clonal selection. The discovery of public clonotypic autoantibodies directed against an immunodominant epitope on La, taken together with recent findings for the linked Ro52 and Ro60 autoantigens, supports a model of systemic autoimmunity in which humoral responses against protein–RNA complexes are mediated by public sets of autoreactive B cell clonotypes.