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Nature. 1990 Jun 14;345(6276):632-4.

T-cell clones from a type-1 diabetes patient respond to insulin secretory granule proteins.

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Department of Immunohaematology and Blood Bank, University Hospital, Leiden, The Netherlands.


T LYMPHOCYTES reactive to pancreatic beta-cells are thought to have a central role in the autoimmune process leading to type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes, but the molecular targets of these T cells have not yet been defined. As identification of such antigens may enable measures to be developed to prevent the disease, we have characterized an antigen that is recognized by insulinoma membrane-reactive T-cell clones established from a newly diagnosed type-1 diabetes patient. Subcellular fractionation studies using rat insulinoma indicate that the antigenic determinant recognized by one of these clones is an integral membrane component of the insulin secretory granule. After a 5,000-fold purification, we have defined the antigen as a monomer of relative molecular mass 38,000. As granular membrane proteins are transiently exposed on the cell surface during exocytosis, their accessibility to components of the immune system may be a function of the secretory activity of beta-cells.

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