Autoantibodies to the islet specific Zn transporter ZnT8 (Slc30a8), as well as CD4 T cells, have been identified in patients with type 1 diabetes. Here we examined for CD4 T cell reactivity to ZnT8 epitopes in the NOD mouse. Immunization with a cytoplasmic domain of the protein or with peptides predicted to bind to I-Ag7 resulted in a CD4 T cell response, indicating a lack of deletional tolerance. However, presentation by intra-islet antigen-presenting cells (APC) to the T cells was not detectable in pre-diabetic mice: presentation by islet APC was found only in islets of mice with active diabetes. In accordance, a culture assay indicated the weak transfer of ZnT8 reactivity from insulinomas or primary β-cells to APC for presentation to T cells. A T cell directed to one peptide (345-359) resulted in the transfer of diabetes, but only in conditions in which the recipient NOD mice or NOD.Rag1-/- mice were subjected to light irradiation. In late diabetic NOD mice CD4 T cells were found as well as a weak antibody response. We conclude that in NOD mice, ZnT8 is a minor diabetogenic antigen that can participate in diabetes in conditions in which the islet is first made receptive to immunological insults.
- Received December 12, 2013.
- Accepted April 29, 2014.
- © 2014 by the American Diabetes Association.
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