Synthetic Polyclonal-Derived CDR Peptides as an Innovative Strategy in Glaucoma Therapy

J Clin Med. 2019 Aug 15;8(8):1222. doi: 10.3390/jcm8081222.


The pathogenesis of glaucoma is strongly associated with the occurrence of autoimmune-mediated loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and additionally, recent evidence shows that specific antibody-derived signature peptides are significantly differentially expressed in sera of primary-open angle glaucoma patients (POAG) compared to healthy controls. Synthetically antibody-derived peptides can modulate various effector functions of the immune system and act as antimicrobial or antiviral molecules. In an ex vivo adolescent glaucoma model, this study, for the first time, demonstrates that polyclonal-derived complementarity-determining regions (CDRs) can significantly increase the survival rate of RGCs (p = 0.013). We subsequently performed affinity capture experiments that verified the mitochondrial serine protease HTRA2 (gene name: HTRA2) as a high-affinity retinal epitope target of CDR1 sequence motif ASGYTFTNYGLSWVR. Quantitative proteomic analysis of the CDR-treated retinal explants revealed increased expression of various anti-apoptotic and anti-oxidative proteins (e.g., VDAC2 and TXN) compared to untreated controls (p < 0.05) as well as decreased expression levels of cellular stress response markers (e.g., HSPE1 and HSP90AA1). Mitochondrial dysfunction, the protein ubiquitination pathway and oxidative phosphorylation were annotated as the most significantly affected signaling pathways and possibly can be traced back to the CDR-induced inhibition or modulation of the master regulator HTRA2. These findings emphasize the great potential of synthetic polyclonal-derived CDR peptides as therapeutic agents in future glaucoma therapy and provide an excellent basis for affinity-based biomarker discovery purposes.

Keywords: HTRA2; Sus scrofa domestica; autoimmunity; glaucoma; neuroprotection; synthetic CDR peptides.