The myelin-associated oligodendrocytic basic protein region MOBP15-36 encompasses the immunodominant major encephalitogenic epitope(s) for SJL/J mice and predicted epitope(s) for multiple sclerosis-associated HLA-DRB1*1501.J Immunol 2004; 173(2):1426-35JI
Autoimmune response to the myelin-associated oligodendrocytic basic protein (MOBP), a CNS-specific myelin constituent, was recently suggested to play a role in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS). The pathogenic autoimmune response to MOBP and the associated pathology in the CNS have not yet been fully investigated. In this study, we have characterized the clinical manifestations, pathology, T cell epitope-specificity, and TCRs associated with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) induced in SJL/J mice with recombinant mouse MOBP (long isoform, 170 aa). Analysis of encephalitogenic MOBP-reactive T cells for reactivity to overlapping MOBP peptides defined MOBP15-36 as their major immunodominant epitope. Accordingly, MOBP15-36 was demonstrated to be the major encephalitogenic MOBP epitope for SJL/J mice, inducing severe/chronic clinical EAE associated with intense perivascular and parenchymal infiltrations, widespread demyelination, axonal loss, and remarkable optic neuritis. Molecular modeling of the interaction of I-A(s) with MOBP15-36, together with analysis of the MOBP15-36-specific T cell response to truncated peptides, suggests MOBP20-28 as the core sequence for I-A(s)-restricted recognition of the encephalitogenic region MOBP15-36. Although highly focused in their epitope specificity, the encephalitogenic MOBP-reactive T cells displayed a widespread usage of TCR Vbeta genes. These results would therefore favor epitope-directed, rather than TCR-targeted, approaches to therapy of MOBP-associated pathogenic autoimmunity. Localization by molecular modeling of a potential HLA-DRB1*1501-associated MOBP epitope within the encephalitogenic MOBP15-36 sequence suggests the potential relevance of T cell reactivity against MOBP15-36 to MS. The reactivity to MOBP15-36 detected in MS shown here and in another study further emphasizes the potential significance of this epitope for MS.