Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is an autoimmune blistering disease characterized by circulating pathogenic IgG antibodies against desmoglein 3 (Dsg3). The purpose of this study was to develop chimeric molecules for specific recognition and elimination of autoimmune B cells in PV. Mouse hybridoma cell lines producing anti-Dsg3 antibody (SH1O, 12A2) were developed as an in vitro model system for targeting B cells. Dsg3-GFP, a baculoprotein containing the entire extracellular domain of Dsg3 fused with green fluorescence protein, recognized and targeted the hybridoma cells through their surface immunoglobulin receptors in an antigen-specific way. The epitopes of these monoclonal antibodies were mapped on the amino terminal EC1 and part of EC2, a region considered functionally important in cadherins. Chimeric toxin molecules containing the mapped region (Dsg3ΔN1) and modified Pseudomonas exotoxin were produced in bacteria (Dsg3ΔN1-PE40-KDEL, PE37- Dsg3ΔN1-KDEL) and tested in vitro on hybridoma cell lines. The chimeric toxins, but not Dsg3ΔN1 alone, showed dose-dependent toxic activity with a reduction in hybridoma cell number to 40-60% of toxin-negative control cultures, compared with little or no effect on anti-Dsg3-negative hybridoma cells. Furthermore, these toxins showed toxic effects on anti-Dsg3 IgG- producing B cells from Dsg3ΔN1-immunized mice, with a 60% reduction in cell number compared with Dsg3ΔN1 alone. Thus, specific recognition and targeting of antigen-specific B cells in PV was demonstrated; this strategy may hold promise as a future therapeutic option for PV and other autoimmune diseases.
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