The role of B cells and posttranslational modifications in pathogenesis of organ-specific immune diseases is increasingly envisioned but remains poorly understood, particularly in human disorders. In celiac disease, transglutaminase 2-modified (TG2-modified; deamidated) gluten peptides drive disease-specific T cell and B cell responses, and antibodies to deamidated gluten peptides are excellent diagnostic markers. Here, we substantiate by high-throughput sequencing of IGHV genes that antibodies to a disease-specific, deamidated, and immunodominant B cell epitope of gluten (PLQPEQPFP) have biased and stereotyped usage of IGHV3-23 and IGHV3-15 gene segments with modest somatic mutations. X-ray crystal structures of 2 prototype IGHV3-15/IGKV4-1 and IGHV3-23/IGLV4-69 antibodies reveal peptide interaction mainly via germline-encoded residues. In-depth mutational analysis showed restricted selection and substitution patterns at positions involved in antigen binding. While the IGHV3-15/IGKV4-1 antibody interacts with Glu5 and Gln6, the IGHV3-23/IGLV4-69 antibody interacts with Gln3, Pro4, Pro7, and Phe8 - residues involved in substrate recognition by TG2. Hence, both antibodies, despite different interaction with the epitope, recognize signatures of TG2 processing that facilitates B cell presentation of deamidated gluten peptides to T cells, thereby providing a molecular framework for the generation of these clinically important antibodies. The study provides essential insight into the pathogenic mechanism of celiac disease.
Keywords: Autoimmune diseases; Autoimmunity; Immunoglobulins.