There remain major gaps in our knowledge regarding the detailed mechanisms by which autoantibodies mediate damage at the tissue level. We have undertaken novel strategies at the interface of engineering and clinical medicine to integrate nanoscale visual and structural data using nanorobotic atomic force microscopy with cell functional analyses to reveal previously unattainable details of autoimmune processes in real-time. Pemphigus vulgaris is a life-threatening autoimmune blistering skin condition in which there is disruption of desmosomal cell-cell adhesion structures that are associated with the presence of antibodies directed against specific epithelial proteins including Desmoglein (Dsg) 3. We demonstrate that pathogenic (blister-forming) anti-Dsg3 antibodies, distinct from non-pathogenic (non-blister forming) anti-Dsg3 antibodies, alter the structural and functional properties of keratinocytes in two sequential steps - an initial loss of cell adhesion and a later induction of apoptosis-related signaling pathways, but not full apoptotic cell death. We propose a ''2-Hit'' model for autoimmune disruption associated with skin-specific pathogenic autoantibodies. These data provide unprecedented details of autoimmune processes at the tissue level and offer a novel conceptual framework for understanding the action of selfreactive antibodies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)