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An Autoantigen Profile from Jurkat T-Lymphoblasts Provides a Molecular Guide for Investigating Autoimmune Sequelae of COVID-19

By Julia Y. Wang, Wei Zhang, Michael W. Roehrl, Victor B. Roehrl, Michael H. Roehrl

Posted 07 Jul 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.05.451199

In order to understand autoimmune phenomena contributing to the pathophysiology of COVID-19 and post-COVID syndrome, we have been profiling autoantigens (autoAgs) from various cell types. Although cells share numerous autoAgs, each cell type gives rise to unique COVID-altered autoAg candidates, which may explain the wide range of symptoms experienced by patients with autoimmune sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Based on the unifying property of affinity between autoantigens (autoAgs) and the glycosaminoglycan dermatan sulfate (DS), this paper reports 140 candidate autoAgs identified from proteome extracts of human Jurkat T-cells, of which at least 105 (75%) are known targets of autoantibodies. Comparison with currently available multi-omic COVID-19 data shows that 125 (89%) of DS-affinity proteins are altered at protein and/or RNA levels in SARS-CoV-2-infected cells or patients, with at least 94 being known autoAgs in a wide spectrum of autoimmune diseases and cancer. Protein alterations by ubiquitination and phosphorylation in the viral infection are major contributors of autoAgs. The autoAg protein network is significantly associated with cellular response to stress, apoptosis, RNA metabolism, mRNA processing and translation, protein folding and processing, chromosome organization, cell cycle, and muscle contraction. The autoAgs include clusters of histones, CCT/TriC chaperonin, DNA replication licensing factors, proteasome and ribosome proteins, heat shock proteins, serine/arginine-rich splicing factors, 14-3-3 proteins, and cytoskeletal proteins. AutoAgs such as LCP1 and NACA that are altered in the T cells of COVID patients may provide insight into T-cell responses in the viral infection and merit further study. The autoantigen-ome from this study contributes to a comprehensive molecular map for investigating acute, subacute, and chronic autoimmune disorders caused by SARS-CoV-2.

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