Objectives Myositis is a heterogeneous family of diseases including dermatomyositis (DM), immune-mediated necrotising myopathy (IMNM), antisynthetase syndrome (AS) and inclusion body myositis (IBM). Myositis-specific autoantibodies define different subtypes of myositis. For example, patients with anti-Mi2 autoantibodies targeting the chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein 4 (CHD4)/NuRD complex (a transcriptional repressor) have more severe muscle disease than other DM patients. This study aimed to define the transcriptional profile of muscle biopsies from anti-Mi2-positive DM patients.
Methods RNA sequencing was performed on muscle biopsies (n=171) from patients with anti-Mi2-positive DM (n=18), DM without anti-Mi2 autoantibodies (n=32), AS (n=18), IMNM (n=54) and IBM (n=16) as well as 33 normal muscle biopsies. Genes specifically upregulated in anti-Mi2-positive DM were identified. Muscle biopsies were stained for human immunoglobulin and protein products corresponding to genes specifically upregulated in anti-Mi2-positive muscle biopsies.
Results A set of 135 genes, including SCRT1 and MADCAM1, was specifically overexpressed in anti-Mi2-positive DM muscle. This set was enriched for CHD4/NuRD-regulated genes and included genes that are not otherwise expressed in skeletal muscle. The expression levels of these genes correlated with anti-Mi2 autoantibody titres, markers of disease activity and with the other members of the gene set. In anti-Mi2-positive muscle biopsies, immunoglobulin was localised to the myonuclei, MAdCAM-1 protein was present in the cytoplasm of perifascicular fibres, and SCRT1 protein was localised to myofibre nuclei.
Conclusions Based on these findings, we hypothesise that anti-Mi2 autoantibodies could exert a pathogenic effect by entering damaged myofibres, inhibiting the CHD4/NuRD complex, and subsequently derepressing the unique set of genes defined in this study.
Data availability statement
Data are available on reasonable request. Any anonymised data not published within the article will be shared by request from any qualified investigator.
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Handling editor Josef S Smolen
IP-F, JCM, KP and SM-B contributed equally.
Contributors All authors contributed to the development of the manuscript, including interpretation of results, substantive review of drafts and approval of the final draft for submission. Both Dr. ALM and IP-F act as guarantors of the study.
Funding This study was funded, in part, by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health. This work was also supported by the Peter Buck and the Huayi and Siuling Zhang Discovery Fund.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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