Enzyme that triggers autoimmune responses from T-cells in patients with MS found

October 11, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress report
Diminishing myelin sheaths: The damaged areas (at the bottom of the image) of the brains of MS patients lack myelin (at the top, in blue). (Image: Dr. med. Imke Metz, University of Göttingen, Germany) Credit: Dr. med. Imke Metz, University of Göttingen, Germany

A team of researchers from Switzerland, the U.S. and Spain has isolated an enzyme that triggers an autoimmune response from T-cells in patients with MS. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes their study of T-cells and protein fragments and what they found. Joseph Sabatino Jr. and Scott Zamvil with the University of California, have written a Focus piece on the work done by the team in the same journal issue.

Multiple sclerosis arises when the immune system begins mistakenly attacking myelin, a lipid-rich insulator that covers nerve endings. People with MS generally develop tingling and numbness, and over time, a host of other symptoms. There is currently no cure, and treatment is limited to attempts to improve functionality. The cause of the disease is not known either, but it is believed that an agent of some sort causes T-cells to attack certain molecules in myelin as foreign invaders. In this new effort, the researchers have found an enzyme that triggers an from T-cells in MS patients. They also found that the same kind of T-cells reacted to a bacterial variant of the enzyme, suggesting that molecular mimics might be involved. The researchers believe the enzyme they have identified could include a molecule that is the self-antigen scientists have been looking for.

A self-antigen, as its name implies, is a molecule that resides in the body but is misidentified by the immune system as an enemy. It has long been thought that the self-antigen involved in MS lies in one of the proteins in myelin. To find it, the researchers collected T-cells from patients who had died from the disease. They then tested 200 fragment mixtures representing 300 billion varieties. The two with the strongest reaction both came from an enzyme called guanosine diphosphate-L-fucose synthase. The researchers report that T-cells from 12 of the 31 samples were found to react to the enzyme. They also found that T-cells from some of the MS also reacted to a bacterial version of the same , suggesting that some types of bacteria may play a role in setting off an MS-related immune response.

Explore further: Cellular self-digestion process triggers autoimmune disease

More information: Raquel Planas et al. GDP-l-fucose synthase is a CD4+ T cell–specific autoantigen in DRB3*02:02 patients with multiple sclerosis, Science Translational Medicine (2018). DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aat4301

Press release

Related Stories

Cellular self-digestion process triggers autoimmune disease

December 13, 2017
Autophagy refers to a fundamental recycling process of cells that occurs in yeast, fungi, plants, as well as animals and humans. This process allows cells to degrade their own components and thus activate energy resources ...

Enzyme lays the foundations for allergic immune response

July 23, 2018
While in search of the causes of allergies and asthma, a chance discovery has yielded new clues: researchers led by Dr. Marcus Peters have ascertained that the enzyme guanylate cyclase in cells lays the foundations for the ...

Enzyme AEP's importance to immunity discovered

July 24, 2018
The importance of the enzyme AEP as a key regulatory of the immune system has been discovered in new research from Newcastle University, UK.

Altering the immune system to reverse paralysis

April 3, 2017
In the ultimate betrayal, one's own immune system can turn against the protective sheath that envelops neurons in the brain, leaving the body paralyzed. Researchers have developed an experimental treatment that tames the ...

Scientists discover roadblocks that stop brain white matter healing

May 7, 2018
A new study identifies a molecule that may be critical to the repair of white matter, the fatty tissue wrapped around parts of brain cells that helps speed up communication. Damage to white matter is associated with several ...

Study points to potential personalized approach to treating lupus

March 29, 2018
In individuals with lupus, immune cells attack the body's own tissue and organs as if they are enemy invaders. A new Yale-led study describes how a protein found in common bacteria triggers that auto-immune response. The ...

Recommended for you

Neurons with good housekeeping are protected from Alzheimer's

December 17, 2018
Some neurons in the brain protect themselves from Alzheimer's with a cellular cleaning system that sweeps away toxic proteins associated with the disease, according to a new study from Columbia University and the University ...

Measuring speed of mental replay of movies gives new insight into accessing memories

December 17, 2018
Researchers have discovered that 'fully detailed' memories are stored in the /, but people access this information at different speeds and levels of detail, with people accessing memories 'forward' that is recalling older ...

Gently stroking babies before medical procedures may reduce pain processing

December 17, 2018
Researchers found that gently stroking a baby seems to reduce activity in the infant brain associated with painful experiences. Their results, appearing December 17 in the journal Current Biology, suggest that lightly brushing ...

Tuning arousal to boost information transmission in the brain

December 17, 2018
Columbia neural engineers discover a mechanism by which the locus coeruleus modulates information processing in the thalamus; their findings of how sensory information is encoded in the healthy brain may lead to new treatments ...

Discovery of novel mechanisms that cause migraines

December 17, 2018
Researchers at CNRS, Université Côte d'Azur and Inserm have demonstrated a new mechanism related to the onset of migraine. They found how a mutation that causes dysfunction in a protein which inhibits neuronal electrical ...

Growing a brain: Two-step control mechanism identified in mouse stem cells

December 17, 2018
Scientists have identified two distinct control mechanisms in the developmental transition of undifferentiated stem cells into healthy brain cells. This fundamental research using mice may inform regenerative medicine treatments ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.