Generation of a unique small molecule peptidomimetic that neutralizes lupus autoantibody activity
Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by the presence of pathogenic autoantibodies, many of which are directed against nuclear antigens, in particular double-stranded (ds) DNA. Both clinical studies and animal models have shown that anti-dsDNA antibodies contribute to kidney disease, which is present in 50% of lupus patients and is a major cause of mortality. We previously demonstrated that a subset of nephrotoxic anti-dsDNA antibodies also recognizes the pentapeptide consensus sequence D/E W D/E Y S/G (DWEYS) present in the NR2A and NR2B subunits of the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR). Autoantibodies with this specificity are present in ≈40% of lupus patient sera and are both nephrotoxic and neurotoxic. Elevated titers are present in cerebrospinal fluid of patients with central nervous system manifestations of SLE. Administration of the nonnaturally occurring D form of the DWEYS pentapeptide prevents these antibodies from depositing in glomeruli and from mediating neuronal excitotoxicity. To craft a more useful therapeutic, we used the structural features of the DWEYS peptide to design a unique, selective, and potent small molecule peptidomimetic, FISLE-412, which neutralizes anti-dsDNA/NMDAR lupus autoantibodies and prevents their pathogenic interaction with tissue antigens. This compound, or others derived from it, may provide a unique strategy for the development of lupus therapeutics.