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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Aug 3;96(16):9311-6.

Prevalent CD8(+) T cell response against one peptide/MHC complex in autoimmune diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, The University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine, 3330 Hospital Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1.


Spontaneous autoimmune diabetes in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice is the result of a CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell-dependent autoimmune process directed against the pancreatic beta cells. CD8(+) T cells play a critical role in the initiation and progression of diabetes, but the specificity and diversity of their antigenic repertoire remain unknown. Here, we define the structure of a peptide mimotope that elicits the proliferation, cytokine secretion, differentiation, and cytotoxicity of a diabetogenic H-2K(d)-restricted CD8(+) T cell specificity (NY8.3) that uses a T cell receptor alpha (TCRalpha) rearrangement frequently expressed by CD8(+) T cells propagated from the earliest insulitic lesions of NOD mice (Valpha17-Jalpha42 elements, often joined by the N-region sequence M-R-D/E). Stimulation of splenic CD8(+) T cells from single-chain 8. 3-TCRbeta-transgenic NOD mice with this mimotope leads to preferential expansion of T cells bearing an endogenously derived TCRalpha chain identical to the one used by their islet-associated CD8(+) T cells, which is also identical to the 8.3-TCRalpha sequence. Cytotoxicity assays using islet-derived CD8(+) T cell clones from nontransgenic NOD mice as effectors and peptide-pulsed H-2K(d)-transfected RMA-S cells as targets indicate that nearly half of the CD8(+) T cells recruited to islets in NOD mice specifically recognize the same peptide/H-2K(d) complex. This work demonstrates that beta cell-reactive CD8(+) T cells mount a prevalent response against a single peptide/MHC complex and provides one peptide ligand for CD8(+) T cells in autoimmune diabetes.

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