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Congenic NOD.ABHD18Mit8-D18Mit214 mice, which contain greater than 12.8 Mb of DNA encompassing Idd21.1 from diabetes-resistant Biozzi/ABH mice, have a lower frequency of diabetes compared with the parental nonobese diabetic (NOD) strain, possibly due to reduced pathogenicity of β-islet-infiltrating immune cells.


The objective of the study was to identify an Idd21.1 candidate gene.


The methods used in the study were adoptive transfer into scid mice lacking an adaptive immune system; dendritic cell phenotyping and gene expression analysis; and fine-mapping Idd21.1 by congenic mapping.


Diabetes incidences of NOD.scid.ABHD18Mit8-D18Mit214 mice receiving splenocytes from NOD and NOD.ABHD18Mit8-D18Mit214 were similar to that previously observed in NOD.scid recipients, suggesting that the diabetes resistance in NOD.ABHD18Mit8-D18Mit214 is primarily mediated by the adaptive immune system, findings supported by adoptive transfer of CD4+ T cells. In activated dendritic cells, there were no conclusive differences in cytokine profiles and activation marker expression. However, microarray analysis comparing gene expression between activated dendritic cells from NOD and NOD.ABH D18Mit8-D18Mit214 revealed that Smad2, in a maximal 6.5-Mb region to which Idd21.1 was further resolved by congenic mapping, was differentially expressed (increased in NOD). Quantitative real-time PCR confirmed the differential expression of Smad2, and other genes in the TGF-β signaling pathway, in activated dendritic cells.


These results implicate Smad2 as an Idd21.1 candidate and Smad2 and the TGF-β signaling pathway in activated dendritic cells in diabetogenesis. With suggestive evidence from human genome-wide association studies supporting a role for SMAD7 in human type 1 diabetes, a comprehensive genetic investigation of the SMAD genes in type 1 diabetes is warranted.

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