Aims/hypothesis: It has been reported recently that a novel human endogenous retroviral gene, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)K(1,2)22, was expressed in the plasma of Type I diabetic patients but not in that of nondiabetic control subjects. This investigation was initiated to determine the specificity of the selective expression of IDDMK(1,2)22 in diabetic patients.
Methods: We isolated the total RNA from the plasma and lymphocytes of 13 new onset Type I diabetic patients and 10 normal control subjects and amplified it by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. We then determined the presence of IDDMK(1,2)22 with a specific primer set, U3/R-poly(A), used in a recent report and the 5 'SAg/3 'SAg primer set recognizing the putative superantigen encoding the region of the IDDMK(1,2)22 envelope (env) gene. In addition, we carried out nested PCR of the U3/R-poly(A) polymerase chain reaction product using U3N/R primers.
Results: We found no difference in the presence of the polymerase chain reaction products between diabetic patients and all nondiabetic subjects tested. Sequencing of the U3/R-poly(A) polymerase chain reaction products showed that the exact sequence of IDDMK(1,2)22 was not present in any of the samples tested, neither in the plasma of diabetic patients nor in that of nondiabetic control subjects. Endogenous retroviral sequences with 90-93% sequence homology to IDDMK(1,2)22 were, however, equally present in both the diabetic and nondiabetic subjects.
Conclusion/interpretation: We conclude that a human endogenous retroviral gene with high sequence homology with IDDMK(1,2)22 is not specific for diabetic patients but, rather, is ubiquitous.