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Diabetes. 2014 Feb;63(2):596-604. doi: 10.2337/db13-0462. Epub 2013 Oct 22.

Autoantigen-induced focusing of Vβ13+ T cells precedes onset of autoimmune diabetes in the LEW.1WR1 rat.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA.


The earliest events leading to autoimmune type 1 diabetes (T1D) are not known in any species. A T-cell receptor (TCR)-variable region, TCR-Vβ13, is required for susceptibility to autoimmune diabetes in rats, and selective depletion of Vβ13(+) T cells with an allele-specific monoclonal antibody prevents disease in multiple rat strains. To investigate the role of Vβ13 early in diabetes, we examined islet T-cell transcripts in susceptible (LEW.1WR1) and resistant (LEW.1W and Wistar Furth) strains induced with polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid. Vβ13(+) T cells displayed antigenic focusing in LEW.1WR1 islets 5 days postinduction and were characterized by a substantial decrease in complementarity determining region 3 diversity. This occurred prior to significant islet T-cell accumulation (day 7) or frank diabetes (days 10-14). Vβ13(+) transcripts increased in LEW.1WR1 islets during diabetes progression, but not in resistant rats. We also analyzed transcript clonality of rat TCR-Vα5, an ortholog of the dominant TCR-Vα chain found on insulin B:9-23-reactive T cells in nonobese diabetic rat islets. We observed clonal expansion of Vα5(+) transcripts in prediabetic LEW.1WR1 islets, suggesting that rat Vα5 is also an important component of islet autoantigen recognition. These data provide additional evidence that genome-encoded TCR sequences are important determinants of genetic susceptibility to T1D.

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