Wieke Freudenburg, Madhav Gautam, Pradipta Chakraborty, Jared James, Jennifer Richards, Alison S Salvatori, Aaron Baldwin, Jill Schriewer, R Mark L Buller, John A Corbett and Dorota Skowyra
Type 1 diabetes results from autoimmune destruction of the insulin producing pancreatic β-cells. The immunoproteasome, a version of the proteasome that collaborates with the 11S/PA28 activator to generate immunogenic peptides for presentation by MHC class I molecules, has long been implicated in the onset of the disease, but little is known about immunoproteasome function and regulation in pancreatic β-cells. Interesting insight into these issues comes from a recent analysis of the immunoproteasome expressed in pancreatic β-cells during early antiviral defenses mediated by interferon β (IFNβ), a type I IFN implicated in the induction of the diabetic state in human and animal models. Using mouse islets and the MIN6 insulinoma cell line, Freudenburg et al. found that IFNβ stimulates expression of the immunoproteasome and the 11S/PA28 activator in a manner fundamentally similar to the classic immuno-inducer IFNγ, with similar timing of mRNA accumulation and decline; similar transcriptional activation mediated primarily by the IRF1 and similar mRNA and protein levels. Furthermore, neither IFNβ nor IFNγ altered the expression of regular proteolytic subunits or prevented their incorporation into proteolytic cores. As a result, immunoproteasomes had stochastic combinations of immune and regular proteolytic sites, an arrangement that would likely increase the probability with which unique immunogenic peptides are produced. However, immunoproteasomes were activated by the 11S/PA28 only under conditions of ATP depletion. A mechanism that prevents the activation of immunoproteasome at high ATP levels has not been reported before and could have a major regulatory significance, as it could suppress the generation of immunogenic peptides as cell accumulate immunoproteasome and 11S/PA28, and activate antigen processing only when ATP levels drop. We discuss implications of these new findings on the link between early antiviral response and the onset of type 1 diabetes.