We document here that infection of prediabetic mice with a virus expressing an H-2Kb-restricted mimic ligand to a self epitope present on β cells accelerates the development of autoimmune diabetes. Immunization with the mimic ligand expanded autoreactive T cell populations, which was followed by their trafficking to the islets, as visualized in situ by tetramer staining. In contrast, the mimic ligand did not generate sufficient autoreactive T cells in naive mice to initiate disease. Diabetes acceleration did not occur in H-2K b-deficient mice or in mice tolerized to the mimic ligand. Thus, arenavirus-expressed mimics of self antigens accelerate a previously established autoimmune process. Sequential heterologous viral infections might therefore act in concert to precipitate clinical autoimmune disease, even if single exposure to a viral mimic does not always cause sufficient tissue destruction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas