We identified autoantibodies (AAb) reacting with a variant IA-2 molecule (IA-2var) that has three amino acid substitutions (Cys27, Gly608, and Pro671) within the full-length molecule. We examined IA-2var AAb in first-degree relatives of type 1 diabetes (T1D) probands from the TrialNet Pathway to Prevention Study. The presence of IA-2var-specific AAb in relatives was associated with accelerated progression to T1D in those positive for AAb to GAD65 and/or insulin but negative in the standard test for IA-2 AAb. Furthermore, relatives with single islet AAb (by traditional assays) and carrying both IA-2var AAb and the high-risk HLA-DRB1*04-DQB1*03:02 haplotype progress rapidly to onset of T1D. Molecular modeling of IA-2var predicts that the genomic variation that alters the three amino acids induces changes in the three-dimensional structure of the molecule, which may lead to epitope unmasking in the IA-2 extracellular domain. Our observations suggest that the presence of AAb to IA-2var would identify high-risk subjects who would benefit from participation in prevention trials who have one islet antibody by traditional testing and otherwise would be misclassified as "low risk" relatives.
© 2019 by the American Diabetes Association.