IgA nephropathy (IgAN) is characterized by mesangial cell proliferation and extracellular matrix expansion associated with immune deposits consisting of galactose-deficient polymeric IgA1 and C3. We have previously shown that IgA-binding regions of streptococcal M proteins colocalize with IgA in mesangial immune deposits in patients with IgAN. In the present study, the IgA-binding M4 protein from group A Streptococcus was found to bind to galactose-deficient polymeric IgA1 with higher affinity than to other forms of IgA1, as shown by surface plasmon resonance and solid-phase immunoassay. The M4 protein was demonstrated to bind to mesangial cells not via the IgA-binding region but rather via the C-terminal region, as demonstrated by flow cytometry. IgA1 enhanced binding of M4 to mesangial cells, but not vice versa. Costimulation of human mesangial cells with M4 and galactose-deficient polymeric IgA1 resulted in a significant increase in IL-6 secretion compared with each stimulant alone. Galactose-deficient polymeric IgA1 alone, but not M4, induced C3 secretion from the cells, and costimulation enhanced this effect. Additionally, costimulation enhanced mesangial cell proliferation compared with each stimulant alone. These results indicate that IgA-binding M4 protein binds preferentially to galactose-deficient polymeric IgA1 and that these proteins together induce excessive proinflammatory responses and proliferation of human mesangial cells. Thus, tissue deposition of streptococcal IgA-binding M proteins may contribute to the pathogenesis of IgAN.
- Immunologi inom det medicinska området