T and B cells are the two known lineages of adaptive immune cells. Here, we describe a previously unknown lymphocyte that is a dual expresser (DE) of TCR and BCR and key lineage markers of both B and T cells. In type 1 diabetes (T1D), DEs are predominated by one clonotype that encodes a potent CD4 T cell autoantigen in its antigen binding site. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed that this peptide has an optimal binding register for diabetogenic HLA-DQ8. In concordance, a synthetic version of the peptide forms stable DQ8 complexes and potently stimulates autoreactive CD4 T cells from T1D patients, but not healthy controls. Moreover, mAbs bearing this clonotype are autoreactive against CD4 T cells and inhibit insulin tetramer binding to CD4 T cells. Thus, compartmentalization of adaptive immune cells into T and B cells is not absolute, and violators of this paradigm are likely key drivers of autoimmune diseases.
Keywords: DEs; autoantigen; dual expressers; insulin mimotope; islet autoantigen; type 1 diabetes; x-clonotype; x-idiotype.
Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.