BackgroundType 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease characterized by the progressive destruction of pancreatic beta cells. Interferon-α (IFNα), an antiviral cytokine, is expressed in the pancreatic islets in early T1D, which may be secondary to viral infections. However, not all patients harboring a type I IFN signature present signals of viral infection, suggesting that this response might be initiated by other “danger signals”. Accumulation of mitochondrial double-stranded RNA (mtdsRNA; a danger signal), secondary to silencing of members of the mitochondrial degradosome, PNPT1 and SUV3, has been described to activate the innate immune response.MethodsTo evaluate whether mtdsRNA represents a “danger signal” for pancreatic beta cells in the context of T1D, we silenced PNPT1 and/or SUV3 in slowly proliferating human insulin-secreting EndoC-βH1 cells and in non-proliferating primary human beta cells and evaluated dsRNA accumulation by immunofluorescence and the type I IFN response by western blotting and RT-qPCR.ResultsOnly the simultaneous silencing of PNPT1/SUV3 induced dsRNA accumulation in EndoC-βH1 cells but not in dispersed human islets, and there was no induction of a type I IFN response. By contrast, silencing of these two genes individually was enough to induce dsRNA accumulation in fibroblasts present in the human islet preparations.ConclusionsThese data suggest that accumulation of endogenous mtdsRNA following degradosome knockdown depends on the proliferative capacity of the cells and is not a mediator of the type I IFN response in human pancreatic beta cells.