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Self-Renewing Islet TCF1+ CD8 T Cells Undergo IL-27-Controlled Differentiation to Become TCF1- Terminal Effectors during the Progression of Type 1 Diabetes. J Immunol 2021 Oct 15;207(8):1990-2004



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Pubmed Central ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85116529072 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   9 Citations


In type 1 diabetes (T1D) autoreactive CD8 T cells infiltrate pancreatic islets and destroy insulin-producing β cells. Progression to T1D onset is a chronic process, which suggests that the effector activity of β-cell autoreactive CD8 T cells needs to be maintained throughout the course of disease development. The mechanism that sustains diabetogenic CD8 T cell effectors during the course of T1D progression has not been completely defined. Here we used single-cell RNA sequencing to gain further insight into the phenotypic complexity of islet-infiltrating CD8 T cells in NOD mice. We identified two functionally distinct subsets of activated CD8 T cells, CD44highTCF1+CXCR6- and CD44highTCF1-CXCR6+, in islets of prediabetic NOD mice. Compared with CD44highTCF1+CXCR6- CD8 T cells, the CD44highTCF1-CXCR6+ subset expressed higher levels of inhibitory and cytotoxic molecules and was more prone to apoptosis. Adoptive cell transfer experiments revealed that CD44highTCF1+CXCR6- CD8 T cells, through continuous generation of the CD44highTCF1-CXCR6+ subset, were more capable than the latter population to promote insulitis and the development of T1D. We further showed that direct IL-27 signaling in CD8 T cells promoted the generation of terminal effectors from the CD44highTCF1+CXCR6- population. These results indicate that islet CD44highTCF1+CXCR6- CD8 T cells are a progenitor-like subset with self-renewing capacity, and, under an IL-27-controlled mechanism, they differentiate into the CD44highTCF1-CXCR6+ terminal effector population. Our study provides new insight into the sustainability of the CD8 T cell response in the pathogenesis of T1D.

Author List

Ciecko AE, Schauder DM, Foda B, Petrova G, Kasmani MY, Burns R, Lin CW, Drobyski WR, Cui W, Chen YG


Yi-Guang Chen PhD Professor in the Pediatrics department at Medical College of Wisconsin
William R. Drobyski MD Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Chien-Wei Lin PhD Associate Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
Cell Differentiation
Cell Self Renewal
Cells, Cultured
Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1
Disease Models, Animal
Disease Progression
Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1-alpha
Insulin-Secreting Cells
Mice, Inbred NOD
T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic