Paraneoplastic neurological syndromes (PNS) are severe immune mediated effects of cancer. The presence of IgG autoantibodies against onconeural antigens in serum is a hallmark of the disease. Multiple paraneoplastic antibodies have been described, including antibodies against HuD, Yo, amphiphysin and CV2. In this study, we test the hypothesis that primary amino-acid structures of the antigen binding part of antibodies from various individuals share common sequences that are specific for each auto-antigen.We selected 60 patients with PNS, associated with antibodies against HuD, Yo, Amp or CV2. Affinity purified IgG was separated using SDS-PAGE and IgG heavy chains were excised, trypsinized and subjected to tandem mass spectrometry. We selected masses that uniquely identified a PNS autoantibody group, and used MS/MS fragmentation spectra to obtain information on peptide sequences. Out of 19,173 unique masses, 28 immunoglobulin-derived peptides were found exclusively in samples from a single autoantibody defined PNS group.Our results confirm that specific peptide structures exist in the antigen binding site of IgG that are shared between individuals harboring autoantibodies against the same onconeural antigen. Thus, the immune response in these patients followed converging paths during the rearrangement, selection and maturation of immunoglobulin sequences. The identified peptides can be applied in the diagnosis of PNS, but these data also indicate that a similar approach in a variety of other diseases involving an immune response would have an appealing outlook.

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Journal of Autoimmunity
Department of Neurology

Maat, P., van Duijn, M., Brouwer, E., Dekker, L., Zeneyedpour, L., Luider, T., & Smitt, P. S. (2012). Mass spectrometric detection of antigen-specific immunoglobulin peptides in paraneoplastic patient sera. Journal of Autoimmunity, 38(4), 354–360. doi:10.1016/j.jaut.2012.02.002