Thrombin-activatable carboxypeptidase B cleavage of osteopontin regulates neutrophil survival and synoviocyte binding in rheumatoid arthritis
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OBJECTIVE: Osteopontin (OPN) is a proinflammatory cytokine that plays an important role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). OPN can be cleaved by thrombin, resulting in OPN-R and exposing the cryptic C-terminal alpha4beta1 and alpha9beta1 integrin-binding motif (SVVYGLR). Thrombin-activatable carboxypeptidase B (CPB), also called thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor, removes the C-terminal arginine from OPN-R, generating OPN-L and abrogating its enhanced cell binding. We undertook this study to investigate the roles of OPN-R and OPN-L in synoviocyte adhesion, which contributes to the formation of invasive pannus, and in neutrophil survival, which affects inflammatory infiltrates in RA. METHODS: Using specifically developed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, we tested the synovial fluid of patients with RA, osteoarthritis (OA), and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) to determine OPN-R, OPN-L, and full-length OPN (OPN-FL) levels. RESULTS: Elevated levels of OPN-R and OPN-L were found in synovial fluid samples from RA patients, but not in samples from OA or PsA patients. Increased levels of OPN-R and OPN-L correlated with increased levels of multiple inflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-6. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed robust expression of OPN-FL, but only minimal expression of OPN-R, in RA synovium, suggesting that cleaved OPN is released into synovial fluid. In cellular assays, OPN-FL, and to a lesser extent OPN-R and OPN-L, had an antiapoptotic effect on neutrophils. OPN-R augmented RA fibroblast-like synoviocyte binding mediated by SVVYGLR binding to alpha4beta1, whereas OPN-L did not. CONCLUSION: Thrombin activation of OPN (resulting in OPN-R) and its subsequent inactivation by thrombin-activatable CPB (generating OPN-L) occurs locally within inflamed joints in RA. Our data suggest that thrombin-activatable CPB plays a central homeostatic role in RA by regulating neutrophil viability and reducing synoviocyte adhesion.
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