The events that initiate autoimmune diabetes in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice remain poorly understood. CD4+ and CD8+ T cells are both required to develop disease, but their relative roles in initiating disease are unclear. To test whether CD4+ T cell infiltration into islets requires damage to β cells induced by autoreactive CD8+ T cells, we inactivated Wdfy4 in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice (NOD.Wdfy4-/-) using CRISPR/Cas9 targeting to eliminate cross-presentation by type 1 conventional dendritic cells (cDC1s). Similar to C57BL/6 Wdfy4-/- mice, cDC1 in NOD.Wdfy4-/- mice are unable to cross-present cell-associated antigens to prime CD8+ T cells, while cDC1 from heterozygous NOD.Wdfy4+/- mice cross-present normally. Further, NOD.Wdfy4-/- mice fail to develop diabetes while heterozygous NOD.Wdfy4+/- mice develop diabetes similarly to wild-type NOD mice. NOD.Wdfy4-/- mice remain capable of processing and presenting major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II)-restricted autoantigens and can activate β cell-specific CD4+ T cells in lymph nodes. However, disease in these mice does not progress beyond peri-islet inflammation. These results indicate that the priming of autoreactive CD8+ T cells in NOD mice requires cross-presentation by cDC1. Further, autoreactive CD8+ T cells appear to be required not only to develop diabetes, but to recruit autoreactive CD4+ T cells into islets of NOD mice, perhaps in response to progressive β cell damage.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2219956120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 28 2023


  • Non obese diabetes
  • WDFY4
  • cDC1
  • cross-presentation
  • type 1 diabetes


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