Polysialic acid as an antigen for monoclonal antibody HIgM12 to treat multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative disorders

Jens O. Watzlawik, Robert J. Kahoud, Shermayne Ng, Meghan M. Painter, Louisa M. Papke, Laurie Zoecklein, Bharath Wootla, Arthur E. Warrington, William A. Carey, Moses Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


CNS regeneration is a desirable goal for diseases of brain and spinal cord. Current therapeutic strategies for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) aim to eliminate detrimental effects of the immune system, so far without reversing disability or affecting long-term prognosis in patients. Approachable molecular targets that stimulate CNS repair are not part of the clinical praxis or have not been identified yet. The purpose of this study was to identify the molecular target of the human monoclonal antibody HIgM12. HIgM12 reverses motor deficits in chronically demyelinated mice, a model of MS. Here, we identified polysialic acid (PSA) attached to the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) as the antigen for HIgM12 by using different NCAM knockout strains and through PSA removal from the NCAM protein core. Antibody binding to CNS tissue and primary cells, antibody-mediated cell adhesion, and neurite outgrowth on HIgM12-coated nitrocellulose was detected only in the presence of PSA as assessed by western blotting, immunoprecipitation, immunocytochemistry, and histochemistry. We conclude that HIgM12 mediates it's in vivo and in vitro effects through binding to PSA and has the potential to be an effective therapy for MS and neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)865-878
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • antigen
  • cell adhesion
  • neural cell adhesion molecule
  • neurite outgrowth
  • neurological disease
  • regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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