The major T cell epitope on type II collagen is glycosylated in normal cartilage but modified by arthritis in both rats and humans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Type II collagen (CII) is a target for autoreactive T cells in both rheumatoid arthritis and the murine model collagen-induced arthritis. The determinant core of CII has been identified as CII260-270, and the alteration of this T cell epitope by posttranslational modifications is known to be critical for development of arthritis in mice. Using CII-specific T cell hybridomas we have now shown that the immunodominant T cell epitope in the normal (healthy) human and rat joint cartilage is O-glycosylated at the critical T cell receptor recognition position 264 with a mono- or di-saccharide attached to a hydroxylysine. In contrast, in the arthritic human and rat joint cartilage there are both glycosylated and non-glycosylated CII forms. Glycosylated CII from normal cartilage could not be recognized by T cells reactive to peptides having only lysine or hydroxylysine at position 264, showing that antigen-presenting cells could not degrade the O-linked carbohydrate. Thus, the variable forms of the glycosylated epitope are determined by the structures present in cartilage, and these vary during the disease course. We conclude that the chondrocyte determines the structures presented to the immune system and that these structures are different in normal versus arthritic states.


  • Balik Dzhambazov
  • Meirav Holmdahl
  • Hisakata Yamada
  • Shemin Lu
  • Mikael Vestberg
  • B Holm
  • Olof Johnell
  • J Kihlberg
  • Rikard Holmdahl
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Immunology in the medical area


  • arthritis, processing, glycosylation, CII, APC
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-366
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005
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: Department of Experimental Medical Science (013210000), Orthopaedics (013242900), Department of Dermatology and Venereology (Lund) (013006000), Medical Inflammation Research (013212019), Clinical and Molecular Osteoporosis Research Unit (013242930)