The role of citrullinated proteins suggests a novel mechanism in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis

Neurochem Res. 2007 Feb;32(2):251-6. doi: 10.1007/s11064-006-9144-5. Epub 2006 Sep 22.


The pathogenesis of MS is unknown. In our studies, we have demonstrated an important role for citrullinated myelin basic protein (MBP). The accompanying loss of positive charge compromises the ability of MBP to interact with the lipid bilayer. The conversion of arginine to citrulline in brain is carried out by an enzyme peptidyl arginine deiminase (PAD) 2. The amount of PAD 2 in brain was increased in MS normal-appearing white matter. The mechanism responsible for this increase involved hypomethylation of the promoter region in the PAD 2 gene in MS, but no change (compared to normal) was found in thymus tissue DNA from the same MS patients. In addition, no change was observed in other neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's. We propose that citrullinated MBP, resulting from elevated levels of PAD 2 represents an important biochemical pathway in the pathogenesis of MS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Citrulline / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Methylation
  • Multiple Sclerosis / enzymology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / etiology*
  • Myelin Basic Protein / metabolism*
  • Oligodendroglia / physiology
  • Protein Conformation / drug effects
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Protein-Arginine Deiminases


  • Myelin Basic Protein
  • Citrulline
  • Hydrolases
  • Protein-Arginine Deiminases