His-tRNA synthetase (HARS) is targeted by autoantibodies in chronic and acute inflammatory anti-Jo-1-positive antisynthetase syndrome. The extensive activation and migration of immune cells into lung and muscle are associated with interstitial lung disease, myositis, and morbidity. It is unknown whether the sequestration of HARS is an epiphenomenon or plays a causal role in the disease. Here, we show that HARS circulates in healthy individuals, but it is largely undetectable in the serum of anti-Jo-1-positive antisynthetase syndrome patients. In cultured primary human skeletal muscle myoblasts (HSkMC), HARS is released in increasing amounts during their differentiation into myotubes. We further show that HARS regulates immune cell engagement and inhibits CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell activation. In mouse and rodent models of acute inflammatory diseases, HARS administration downregulates immune activation. In contrast, neutralization of extracellular HARS by high-titer antibody responses during tissue injury increases susceptibility to immune attack, similar to what is seen in humans with anti-Jo-1-positive disease. Collectively, these data suggest that extracellular HARS is homeostatic in normal subjects, and its sequestration contributes to the morbidity of the anti-Jo-1-positive antisynthetase syndrome.
Keywords: Autoimmunity; HARS; Immunology; Synthetase; tRNA.