• antigens/peptides/epitopes;
  • autoimmunity;
  • cytotoxic T cells;
  • diabetes


Autoimmune diabetes is characterized by autoantigen-specific T cell-mediated destruction of pancreatic islet beta cells, and CD8+ T cells are key players during this process. We assessed whether the bitransgenic RIP-CD80 x RIP-LCMV-GP (RIP-CD80GP) mice may be a versatile antigen-specific model of inducible CD8+ T cell-mediated autoimmune diabetes. Antigen-encoding DNA, peptide-loaded dendritic cells and antigen plus incomplete Freund's adjuvant were used for vaccination. Of 14 pancreatic proteins tested by DNA vaccination, murine pre-proinsulin 2 (100% of mice; median time after vaccination, 60 days) and islet-specific glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit-related protein (IGRP) (77%, 58 days) could induce diabetes. Vaccination with DNA encoding for zinc transporter 8, Ia-2, Ia-2β, glutamic acid decarboxylase 67 (Gad67), chromogranin A, insulinoma amyloid polypeptide and homeobox protein Nkx-2.2 induced diabetes development in 25–33% of mice. Vaccination with DNA encoding for Gad65, secretogranin 5, pancreas/duodenum homeobox protein 1 (Pdx1), carboxyl ester lipase, glucagon and control hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) induced diabetes in <20% of mice. Diabetes induction efficiency could be increased by DNA vaccination with a vector encoding a ubiquitin–antigen fusion construct. Diabetic mice had florid T cell islet infiltration. CD8+ T cell targets of IGRP were identified with a peptide library-based enzyme-linked immunospot assay, and diabetes could also be induced by vaccination with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I-restricted IGRP peptides loaded on mature dendritic cells. Vaccination with antigen plus incomplete Freund's adjuvant, which can prevent diabetes in other models, led to rapid diabetes development in the RIP-CD80GP mouse. We conclude that RIP-CD80GP mice are a versatile model of antigen specific autoimmune diabetes and may complement existing mouse models of autoimmune diabetes for evaluating CD8+ T cell-targeted prevention strategies.