Defective Proinsulin Handling Modulates the MHC I Bound Peptidome and Activates the Inflammasome in β-Cells

Muhammad Saad Khilji, Pouya Faridi, Erika Pinheiro-Machado, Carolin Hoefner, Tina Dahlby, Ritchlynn Aranha, Søren Buus, Morten Nielsen, Justyna Klusek, Thomas Mandrup-Poulsen, Anthony W. Purcell*, Michal T. Marzec*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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How immune tolerance is lost to pancreatic β-cell peptides triggering autoimmune type 1 diabetes is enigmatic. We have shown that loss of the proinsulin chaperone glucose-regulated protein (GRP) 94 from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) leads to mishandling of proinsulin, ER stress, and activation of the immunoproteasome. We hypothesize that inadequate ER proinsulin folding capacity relative to biosynthetic need may lead to an altered β-cell major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class-I bound peptidome and inflammasome activation, sensitizing β-cells to immune at-tack. We used INS-1E cells with or without GRP94 knockout (KO), or in the presence or absence of GRP94 inhibitor PU-WS13 (GRP94i, 20 µM), or exposed to proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β or interferon gamma (IFNγ) (15 pg/mL and 10 ng/mL, respectively) for 24 h. RT1.A (rat MHC I) expression was evaluated using flow cytometry. The total RT1.A-bound peptidome analysis was performed on cell lysates fractionated by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC), followed by liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain, leucine rich repeat and pyrin domain containing protein (NLRP1), nuclear factor of kappa light polypeptide gene enhancer in B-cells in-hibitor alpha (IκBα), and (pro) IL-1β expression and secretion were investigated by Western blot-ting. GRP94 KO increased RT1.A expression in β-cells, as did cytokine exposure compared to relevant controls. Immunopeptidome analysis showed increased RT1.A-bound peptide repertoire in GRP94 KO/i cells as well as in the cells exposed to cytokines. The GRP94 KO/cytokine exposure groups showed partial overlap in their peptide repertoire. Notably, proinsulin-derived peptide diversity increased among the total RT1.A peptidome in GRP94 KO/i along with cytokines exposure. NLRP1 expression was upregulated in GRP94 deficient cells along with decreased IκBα content while proIL-1β cellular levels declined, coupled with increased secretion of mature IL-1β. Our results suggest that limiting β-cell proinsulin chaperoning enhances RT1.A expression alters the MHC-I peptidome including proinsulin peptides and activates inflammatory pathways, suggesting that stress associated with impeding proinsulin handling may sensitize β-cells to immune-attack.

Original languageEnglish
Article number814
Issue number4
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • ER stress
  • GRP94
  • inflammation
  • insulin
  • MHC class-I
  • proteasome


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