A possible role of transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP)-l in the pathogenesis of IDDM has been investigated by examining the level of TAP-1 expression in the islets of IDDM pancreas and by studying in vitro the effect of interferon (IFN)-γ, IFN-α, and tumor necrosis factor-α in TAP-1 expression by cultured islet cells. A remarkable hyperexpression of TAP-1 has been found in the endocrine cells (β and non-β) of IDDM islets, which constitutes first evidence of hyperexpression of this molecule in the target organ of an autoimmune disease. TAP-1 hyperexpression correlated clearly with HLA class I hyperexpression but only very partially with HLA class II ectopic expression. IFN-γ and IFN-α, both cytokines putatively implicated in IDDM pathogenesis, were capable of inducing TAP-1 protein (as assessed by immunofluorescence flow cytometry) and message (by Northern blot analysis and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction). These findings suggest that under the influence of cytokines (most probably IFN-α) β-cells may express in their surface a high density of HLA class I–peptide complexes that may facilitate their recognition and lysis by low-affinity CD8+ T-cells.

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