Myelin basic protein (MBP) citrullination by peptidylarginine deiminase (PAD) enzymes leads to incomplete protein-lipid bilayer interactions and vulnerability to proteolytic enzymes, resulting in disorganization of the myelin sheath in the central nervous system. Therefore, citrullinated MBP (citMBP) has been suggested as a hallmark of demyelination, but how citMBP is implicated in prion diseases remains unknown. For the first time, we developed mouse monoclonal anti-citMBP IgG1 (clones 1B8, 1H1, and 3C6) and IgM (clone 3G5) antibodies that recognize human citMBP at its R25, R122, and R130 residues and at its C-terminal region (or the corresponding sites in mouse MBP), respectively. Using a biochemical, immunohistochemical, and immunogold-silver staining for electron microscopy techniques, we found that MBP residue R23 (corresponding to human R25) was specifically citrullinated, was stained as intense punctae in the corpus callosum, the striatum, and the cerebellar white matter, and was predominantly localized in disorganized myelin in the brains of scrapie-infected mice. In the brains of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) patients, MBP residues R25, R122, and R130 were markedly citrullinated and were stained as fibrils and punctae. In particular, white matter regions, such as the midbrain and the medulla, exhibited high levels of citMBP compared to other regions. However, the high levels of citMBP were not correlated with PAD2 expression. The clone 3G5 recognized significantly increased expression of the 18.5 kDa and/or 21.5 kDa variants of MBP in prion disease. Our findings suggest that significantly increased levels of citMBP may reflect demyelinating neuropathology, and that these newly developed antibodies may be useful for identifying demyelination.
Keywords: Citrullination; Demyelination; Myelin basic protein; Neurodegeneration; Peptidylarginine deiminase.