In the past, endogenous retroviral sequences have been isolated from patients suffering from different kinds of autoimmune diseases. Recently, a full length retroviral genome, termed IDDMK(1,2)22, was isolated from patients with new-onset IDDM. This genome contains a major histocompatibility complex II-dependent superantigen within its envelope gene. The viral sequence was found in ten patients with new-onset IDDM, but not in age-matched control subjects (Conrad et al. [9]). We searched for the presence of this viral genome by nested reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in a cohort of six patients with new-onset IDDM and six control subjects of the same age. We found all samples to be positive without any differences between patients and control subjects. The same results were obtained with supernatants of activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. We performed isopycnic ultracentrifugation in sucrose density gradients on all samples and were unable to detect particles of the new virus in any of our samples. However, positive signals were obtained from all pellet fractions. RNase, DNase treatment and nested PCRs without reverse transcription showed that the positive signals were probably derived from intracellular RNA and DNA. In summary, no correlation between a positive nested PCR signal for IDDMK(1,2)22 and diabetes was found indicating that the new sequence represents just an additional member of the human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) family with lack of an exogenous counterpart.

This content is only available via PDF.