GLUTAMIC-ACID DECARBOXYLASE-67 (GAD67) - EXPRESSION RELATIVE TO GAD65 IN HUMAN ISLETS AND MAPPING OF AUTOANTIBODY EPITOPES
Cram, DS; FAULKNERJONES, B; KUN, J; Harrison, LC
Glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), a target of both autoantibodies and autoreactive T-cells in insulin-dependent diabetes (IDD), exists as two homologous forms, GAD65 and GAD67. GAD65 is preferentially expressed in human islets and recognized by autoantibodies in IDD, but which form primarily elicits GAD autoimmunity is unknown. GAD67 gene expression in human islets has been demonstrated only by the polymerase chain reaction. We, therefore, quantitatively compared the expression of each GAD gene in human islets and mapped the binding of autoantibodies to recombinant human GAD67 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In ribonuclease protection assays, both forms of GAD messenger RNA (mRNA) were detected in human islets, although GAD65 mRNA was 200 times more abundant than GAD67 mRNA. Immunoblotting of islets with GAD form-specific antisera revealed GAD65, but not GAD67. By in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, GAD65 mRNA and protein were localized to islets, predominantly, but not entirely, to beta-cells; GAD67 mRNA and protein were undetectable. Thus, although GAD67 protein expression was undetectable in human islets, the GAD67 gene is transcribed, albeit weakly. Antibodies that recognized multiple epitopes in recombinant GAD67 were found in 20% of sera from ICA positive ''at risk'' first degree relatives of IDD subjects and recent-onset IDD subjects. The majority of GAD67 epitopes were mapped within the mid- and C-terminal thirds of the protein, a region that is highly conserved in GAD65. Although GAD67 may share cross-reactive epitopes with GAD65, these findings do not exclude the possibility that autoimmunity to GAD arises as a consequence of the aberrant up-regulation of GAD67 in human islets.