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Autoantigen Tetramer Silences Autoreactive B Cell Populations

Christopher, MA;Johnson, SN;Griffin, JD;Berkland, CJ;

Many autoimmune therapies focus on immune suppression to reduce symptom severity and halt disease progression; however, currently approved treatments lack specificity for the autoantigen and rely on more global immune suppression. Multivalent antigen arrays can disarm pathogenic autoimmune B cell populations that specifically recognize the antigen of interest via their B cell receptor (BCR). Disarmament may be achieved by BCR engagement, crosslinking, and sustained receptor occupancy as a result of multivalent, high avidity BCR binding. To engage and explore this mechanism, a tetramer display of the encephalogenic proteolipid peptide (PLP139-151), referred to as 4-arm PLP139-151, was synthesized by copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition chemistry. Subcutaneous administration of 4-arm PLP139-151 completely ameliorated symptoms of paralysis in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis known as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Competitive binding of 4-arm PLP139-151 to PLP139-151-specific IgG in mouse serum demonstrated the enhanced avidity associated with the multivalent array compared to free peptide. Furthermore, key PLP139-151-reactive B cells were depleted following 4-arm PLP139-151 treatment, resulting in significant reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Together, these data demonstrate the potential of 4-arm PLP139-151 to silence autoreactive B cell populations and limit downstream activation of effector cells.