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Research Article

Diabetogenic T-Cell Clones Recognize an Altered Peptide of Chromogranin A


Chromogranin A (ChgA) has been identified as the antigen target for three NOD-derived, diabetogenic CD4 T-cell clones, including the well-known BDC-2.5. These T-cell clones respond weakly to the peptide WE14, a naturally occurring proteolytic cleavage product from ChgA. We show here that WE14 can be converted into a highly antigenic T-cell epitope through treatment with the enzyme transglutaminase (TGase). The WE14 responses of three NOD-derived CD4 T-cell clones, each with different T-cell receptors (TCRs), and of T cells from BDC-2.5 TCR transgenic mice are increased after TGase conversion of the peptide. Primary CD4 T cells isolated from NOD mice also respond to high concentrations of WE14 and significantly lower concentrations of TGase-treated WE14. We hypothesize that posttranslational modification plays a critical role in the generation of T-cell epitopes in type 1 diabetes.