Following the fate of one insulin-reactive CD4 T cell: conversion into Teffs and Tregs in the periphery controls diabetes in NOD mice.

Type 1 Diabetes Center, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, La Jolla, California, USA.
Diabetes (Impact Factor: 7.9). 03/2012; 61(5):1169-79. DOI: 10.2337/db11-0671
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In diabetic patients and susceptible mice, insulin is a targeted autoantigen. Insulin B chain 9-23 (B:9-23) autoreactive CD4 T cells are key for initiating autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice; however, little is known regarding their origin and function. To this end, B:9-23-specific, BDC12-4.1 T-cell receptor (TCR) transgenic (Tg) mice were studied, of which, despite expressing a single TCR on the recombination activating gene-deficient background, only a fraction develops diabetes in an asynchronous manner. BDC12-4.1 CD4 T cells convert into effector (Teff) and Foxp3(+)-expressing adaptive regulatory T cells (aTregs) soon after leaving the thymus as a result of antigen recognition and homeostatic proliferation. The generation of aTreg causes the heterogeneous diabetes onset, since crossing onto the scurfy (Foxp3) mutation, BDC12-4.1 TCR Tg mice develop accelerated and fully penetrant diabetes. Similarly, adoptive transfer and bone marrow transplantation experiments showed differential diabetes kinetics based on Foxp3(+) aTreg's presence in the BDC12-4.1 donors. A single-specificity, insulin-reactive TCR escapes thymic deletion and simultaneously converts into aTreg and Teff, establishing an equilibrium that determines diabetes penetrance. These results are of particular importance for understanding disease pathogenesis. They suggest that once central tolerance is bypassed, autoreactive cells arriving in the periphery do not by default follow solely a pathogenic fate upon activation.

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    ABSTRACT: In the nonobese diabetic mouse, a predominant component of the autoreactive CD4(+) T cell repertoire is directed against the B:9-23 segment of the insulin B chain. Previous studies established that the majority of insulin-reactive T cells specifically recognize a weak peptide-MHC binding register within the B:9-23 segment, that to the 12-20 register. These T cells are uniquely stimulated when the B:9-23 peptide, but not the insulin protein, is offered to antigen presenting cells (APCs). Here, we report on a T cell receptor (TCR) transgenic mouse (8F10) that offers important new insights into the biology of these unconventional T cells. Many of the 8F10 CD4(+) T cells escaped negative selection and were highly pathogenic. The T cells were directly recruited into islets of Langerhans, where they established contact with resident intra-islet APCs. Immunogenic insulin had to be presented in order for the T cells to localize and cause disease. These T cells bypassed an initial priming stage in the pancreatic lymph node thought to precede islet T cell entry. 8F10 T cells induced the production of antiinsulin antibodies and islets contained immunoglobulin (IgG) deposited on β cells and along the vessel walls.
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