Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease characterized by T cell-mediated destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic β cells. In both humans and the non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse model of T1D, class II MHC alleles are the primary determinant of disease susceptibility. However, class I MHC genes also influence risk. These findings are consistent with the requirement for both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the pathogenesis of T1D. Although a large body of work has permitted the identification of multiple mechanisms to explain the diabetes-protective effect of particular class II MHC alleles, studies examining the protective influence of class I alleles are lacking. Here, we explored this question by performing biochemical and structural analyses of the murine class I MHC molecule H-2Kwm7, which exerts a diabetes-protective effect in NOD mice. We have found that H-2Kwm7 molecules are predominantly occupied by the single self-peptide VNDIFERI, derived from the ubiquitous protein histone H2B. This unexpected finding suggests that the inability of H-2Kwm7 to support T1D development could be due, at least in part, to the failure of peptides from critical β-cell antigens to adequately compete for binding and be presented to T cells. Predominant presentation of a single peptide would also be expected to influence T-cell selection, potentially leading to a reduced ability to select a diabetogenic CD8+ T-cell repertoire. The report that one of the predominant peptides bound by T1D-protective HLA-A*31 is histone derived suggests the potential translation of our findings to human diabetes-protective class I MHC molecules.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy