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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jun 25;93(13):6367-70.

IA-2, a transmembrane protein of the protein tyrosine phosphatase family, is a major autoantigen in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

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  • 1Laboratory of Oral Medicine, National Institute of Dental Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-4322, USA.


IA-2 is a 105,847 Da transmembrane protein that belongs to the protein tyrosine phosphatase family. Immunoperoxidase staining with antibody raised against IA-2 showed that this protein is expressed in human pancreatic islet cells. In this study, we expressed the full-length cDNA clone of IA-2 in a rabbit reticulocyte transcription/translation system and used the recombinant radiolabeled IA-2 protein to detect autoantibodies by immunoprecipitation. Coded sera (100) were tested: 50 from patients with newly diagnosed insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and 50 from age-matched normal controls. Sixty-six percent of the sera from patients, but none of the sera from controls, reacted with IA-2. The same diabetic sera tested for autoantibodies to islet cells (ICA) by indirect immunofluorescence and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65Ab) by depletion ELISA showed 68% and 52% positivity, respectively. Up to 86% of the IDDM patients had autoantibodies to IA-2 and/or GAD65. Moreover, greater than 90% (14 of 15) of the ICA-positive but GAD65Ab-negative sera had autoantibodies to IA-2. Absorption experiments showed that the immunofluorescence reactivity of ICA-positive sera was greatly reduced by prior incubation with recombinant IA-2 or GAD65 when the respective antibody was present. A little over one-half (9 of 16) of the IDDM sera that were negative for ICA were found to be positive for autoantibodies to IA-2 and/or GAD65, arguing that the immunofluorescence test for ICA is less sensitive than the recombinant tests for autoantibodies to IA-2 and GAD65. It is concluded that IA-2 is a major islet cell autoantigen in IDDM, and, together with GAD65, is responsible for much of the reactivity of ICA with pancreatic islets. Tests for the detection of autoantibodies to recombinant IA-2 and GAD65 may eventually replace ICA immunofluorescence for IDDM population screening.

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