Citrullination of TNF-α by peptidylarginine deiminases reduces its capacity to stimulate the production of inflammatory chemokines

Eva A V Moelants, Anneleen Mortier, Karolien Grauwen, Isabelle Ronsse, Jo Van Damme, Paul Proost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Citrullination, a posttranslational modification (PTM) recently discovered on inflammatory chemokines such as interleukin-8 (IL-8/CXCL8) and interferon-γ-inducible protein-10 (IP-10/CXCL10), seriously influences their biological activity. Citrullination or the deimination of arginine to citrulline is dependent on peptidylarginine deiminases (PADs) and has been linked to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Chemokines are to date the first identified PAD substrates with receptor-mediated biological activity. We investigated whether cytokines that play a crucial role in RA, like interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), may be citrullinated by PAD and whether such a PTM influences the biological activity of these cytokines. IL-1β and TNF-α were first incubated with PAD in vitro and the occurrence of citrullination was examined by Edman degradation and a recently developed detection method for citrullinated proteins. Both techniques confirmed that human TNF-α, but not IL-1β, was citrullinated by PAD. Citrullination of TNF-α reduced its potency to stimulate chemokine production in vitro on human primary fibroblasts. Concentrations of the inflammatory chemokines CXCL8, CXCL10 and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1/CCL2) were significantly lower in supernatants of fibroblasts induced with citrullinated TNF-α compared to unmodified TNF-α. However, upon citrullination TNF-α retained its capacity to induce apoptosis/necrosis of mononuclear cells, its binding potency to Infliximab and its ability to recruit neutrophils to the peritoneal cavity of mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-167
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal/metabolism
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal/metabolism
  • Apoptosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid/immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases/immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Citrulline/metabolism
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts
  • Humans
  • Hydrolases/metabolism
  • Infliximab
  • Interleukin-1beta/metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear/metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neutrophil Activation
  • Neutrophils/immunology
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein-Arginine Deiminases
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha/metabolism


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