Acquisition of N-Glycosylation Sites in Immunoglobulin Heavy Chain Genes During Local Expansion in Parotid Salivary Glands of Primary Sjogren Patients

Annie Visser, Marieke E. Doorenspleet, Niek de Vries, Fred K. L. Spijkervet, Arjan Vissink, Richard J. Bende, Hendrika Bootsma, Frans G. M. Kroese, Nicolaas A. Bos*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Previous studies revealed high incidence of acquired N-glycosylation sites acquired N-glycosylation sites in RNA transcripts encoding immunoglobulin heavy variable region (IGHV) 3 genes from parotid glands of primary Sjogren's syndrome (pSS) patients. In this study, next generation sequencing was used to study the extent of ac-Nglycs among clonally expanded cells from all IGVH families in the salivary glands of pSS patients. RNA was isolated from parotid gland biopsies of five pSS patients and five non-pSS sicca controls. IGHV sequences covering all functional IGHV genes were amplified, sequenced, and analyzed. Each biopsy recovered 1,800-4,000 unique IGHV sequences. No difference in IGHV gene usage was observed between pSS and non-pSS sequences. Clonally related sequences with more than 0.3% of the total number of sequences per patient were referred to as dominant clone. Overall, 70 dominant clones were found in pSS biopsies, compared to 15 in non-pSS. No difference in percentage mutation in dominant clone-derived IGHV sequences was seen between pSS and non-pSS. In pSS, no evidence for antigen-driven selection in dominant clones was found. We observed a significantly higher amount of ac-Nglycs among pSS dominant clone-derived sequences compared to non-pSS. Ac-Nglycs were, however, not restricted to dominant clones or IGHV gene. Most ac-Nglycs were detected in the framework 3 region. No stereotypic rheumatoid factor rearrangements were found in dominant clones. Lineage tree analysis showed in four pSS patients, but not in non-pSS, the presence of the germline sequence from a dominant clone. Presence of germline sequence and mutated IGHV sequences in the same dominant clone provide evidence that this clone originated from a naive B-cell recruited into the parotid gland to expand and differentiate locally into plasma cells. The increased presence of ac-Nglycs in IGHV sequences, due to somatic hypermutation, might provide B-cells an escape mechanism to survive during immune response. We speculate that glycosylation of the B-cell receptor makes the cell sensitive to environmental lectin signals to contribute to aberrant B-cell selection in pSS parotid glands.

Original languageEnglish
Article number491
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 12-Mar-2018


  • Sjogren syndrome
  • B-cell
  • N-glycosylation
  • heavy chain
  • parotid Gland
  • next generation sequencing
  • BAFF

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