Protein tyrosine phosphatase nonreceptor type 22 (PTPN22) gene polymorphisms are associated with many autoimmune diseases. The major risk allele encodes an R620W amino acid change that alters B cell receptor (BCR) signaling involved in the regulation of central B cell tolerance. To assess whether this PTPN22 risk allele affects the removal of developing autoreactive B cells, we tested by ELISA the reactivity of recombinant antibodies isolated from single B cells from asymptomatic healthy individuals carrying one or two PTPN22 risk allele(s) encoding the PTPN22 R620W variant. We found that new emigrant/transitional and mature naive B cells from carriers of this PTPN22 risk allele contained high frequencies of autoreactive clones compared with those from non-carriers, revealing defective central and peripheral B cell tolerance checkpoints. Hence, a single PTPN22 risk allele has a dominant effect on altering autoreactive B cell counterselection before any onset of autoimmunity. In addition, gene array experiments analyzing mature naive B cells displaying PTPN22 risk allele(s) revealed that the association strength of PTPN22 for autoimmunity may be due not only to the impaired removal of autoreactive B cells but also to the upregulation of genes such as CD40, TRAF1, and IRF5, which encode proteins that promote B cell activation and have been identified as susceptibility genes associated with autoimmune diseases. These data demonstrate that early B cell tolerance defects in autoimmunity can result from specific polymorphisms and precede the onset of disease.
Laurence Menard, David Saadoun, Isabelle Isnardi, Yen-Shing Ng, Greta Meyers, Christopher Massad, Christina Price, Clara Abraham, Roja Motaghedi, Jane H. Buckner, Peter K. Gregersen, Eric Meffre