Role of glycopeptide-specific T cells in collagen-induced arthritis: an example how post-translational modification of proteins may be involved in autoimmune disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Immunization of mice with type II collagen (CII), a cartilage-restricted protein, leads to collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), a model for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). CIA symptoms consist of an erosive joint inflammation caused by an autoimmune attack, mediated by both T and B lymphocytes. CD4+ alphabeta T cells play a central role in CIA, both by helping B cells to produce anti-CII antibodies, and by interacting with other cells in the joints, eg macrophages. In H-2q mice, most CII-specific CD4+ T cells recognize the CII(256-270) peptide presented on the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II Aq molecule. Post-translational modifications (hydroxylation and variable glycosylation) of the lysine residue at position 264 of CII generate at least four different T-cell determinants that are specifically recognized by distinct T-cell subsets. Most T cells recognize CII(256-270) glycosylated with the monosaccharide galactose, which is consequently immunodominant in CIA. Recent studies indicate that the arthritogenic T cells in CIA are glycopeptide-specific, suggesting that induction of self-tolerance may be rendered more difficult by glycosylation of CII. These data open the possibility that outoimmune disease may be caused by the creation of new epitopes by posttranslational modification of proteins under circumstances such as trauma, inflammation or ageing.


  • Alexandre Corthay
  • Johan Bäcklund
  • Rikard Holmdahl
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Immunology in the medical area


  • arthritis, autoimmunity, collagen-induced arthritis, glycosylation/glycopeptide, peptide, post-translational modification, T lymphocyte
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)456-465
JournalAnnals of Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Medical Inflammation Research (013212019)