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J Immunol. 2004 Dec 1;173(11):6727-34.

Individual nonobese diabetic mice exhibit unique patterns of CD8+ T cell reactivity to three islet antigens, including the newly identified widely expressed dystrophia myotonica kinase.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Spontaneous autoimmune diabetes development in NOD mice requires both CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells. Three pathogenic CD8(+) T cell populations (represented by the G9C8, 8.3, and AI4 clones) have been described. Although the Ags for G9C8 and 8.3 are known to be insulin and islet-specific glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit-related protein, respectively, only mimotope peptides had previously been identified for AI4. In this study, we used peptide/MHC tetramers to detect and quantify these three pathogenic populations among beta cell-reactive T cells cultured from islets of individual NOD mice. Even within age-matched groups, each individual mouse exhibited a unique distribution of beta cell-reactive CD8(+) T cells, both in terms of the number of tetramer-staining populations and the relative proportion of each population in the islet infiltrate. Thus, the inflammatory process in each individual follows its own distinctive course. Screening of a combinatorial peptide library in positional scanning format led to the identification of a peptide derived from dystrophia myotonica kinase (DMK) that is recognized by AI4-like T cells. Importantly, the antigenic peptide is naturally processed and presented by DMK-transfected cells. DMK is a widely expressed protein that is nonetheless the target of a beta cell-specific autoimmune response.

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