Autoimmune diseases such as the diabetes that develops in NOD mice depend on immunologic recognition of specific autoantigens, but recognition can result in a pathogenic or protective T cell response. A study by Du et al. in this issue of the JCI demonstrates that TGF-β signaling by T cells recognizing the insulin peptide B:9–23 is essential for such protection and that this inhibitory cytokine functions in both a paracrine and an autocrine manner (see the related article beginning on page 1360). We propose that the insulin peptide B:9–23 and a conserved TCR motif form an “immunologic homunculus” underlying the relatively common targeting of insulin by T cells that, as demonstrated by the study of Du and coworkers, results in a protective T cell response, or diabetes, as shown by other investigators, for related T cell receptors.
Dirk Homann, George S. Eisenbarth
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.