The Interplay of IL-21 and BAFF in the Formation and Maintenance of Human B Cell Memory.
ABSTRACT: To date, IL-21 stands out as the most influential cytokine for human B cell activation and differentiation. Indeed, when compared to other important B cell tropic cytokines such as IL-2, IL-4, IL-6 and IL-10, IL-21 is clearly the most potent in terms of its ability to influence humoral immune responses in humans. IL-21 has wide reaching actions in determining how B cells will respond to co-stimulation ranging from induction of cell death upon BCR crosslinking to potent induction of class switch recombination and plasma cell differentiation when CD40 molecules are co-engaged. Another crucial B cell factor, exemplified in recent clinical trials, is BAFF/BLys. BAFF plays a critical role in the survival of human B cells and plasma blasts and influences B cell expansion and migration. Recent evidence has shown that IL-21 and BAFF can work in concert to promote and perhaps maintain humoral immunity in humans. Notably, BAFF has the unique ability to substitute for CD40L activities in regard to IL-21-co-stimulation and differentiation of a specific B cell subpopulation located in the human splenic marginal zone. However, and perhaps surprisingly, BAFF signals do not have the capability to override IL-21-driven cell death events when BCR is engaged. In stark contrast, anti-CD40 ligation of B cells co-activated with IL-21 and anti-IgM not only reverses this aforementioned activation-induced cell death, but transforms this death signal into one that drives plasma cell differentiation. Here we will discuss these two critical B cell factors, IL-21 and BAFF, and their distinct and complimentary effects on human B cell responses.
Project description:B-cell responses are guided by the integration of signals through the B-cell receptor (BCR), CD40, and cytokine receptors. The common γ chain (γc)-binding cytokine interleukin (IL)-21 drives humoral immune responses via STAT3-dependent induction of transcription factors required for plasma cell generation. We investigated additional mechanisms by which IL-21/STAT3 signaling modulates human B-cell responses by studying patients with STAT3 mutations. IL-21 strongly induced CD25 (IL-2Rα) in normal, but not STAT3-deficient, CD40L-stimulated naïve B cells. Chromatin immunoprecipitation confirmed IL2RA as a direct target of STAT3. IL-21-induced CD25 expression was also impaired on B cells from patients with IL2RG or IL21R mutations, confirming a requirement for intact IL-21R signaling in this process. IL-2 increased plasmablast generation and immunoglobulin secretion from normal, but not CD25-deficient, naïve B cells stimulated with CD40L/IL-21. IL-2 and IL-21 were produced by T follicular helper cells, and neutralizing both cytokines abolished the B-cell helper capacity of these cells. Our results demonstrate that IL-21, via STAT3, sensitizes B cells to the stimulatory effects of IL-2. Thus, IL-2 may play an adjunctive role in IL-21-induced B-cell differentiation. Lack of this secondary effect of IL-21 may amplify the humoral immunodeficiency in patients with mutations in STAT3, IL2RG, or IL21R due to impaired responsiveness to IL-21.
Project description:Mature B cell pools retain a substantial proportion of polyreactive and self-reactive clonotypes, suggesting that activation checkpoints exist to reduce the initiation of autoreactive B cell responses. Here, we have described a relationship among the B cell receptor (BCR), TLR9, and cytokine signals that regulate B cell responses to DNA-containing antigens. In both mouse and human B cells, BCR ligands that deliver a TLR9 agonist induce an initial proliferative burst that is followed by apoptotic death. The latter mechanism involves p38-dependent G1 cell-cycle arrest and subsequent intrinsic mitochondrial apoptosis and is shared by all preimmune murine B cell subsets and CD27- human B cells. Survival or costimulatory signals rescue B cells from this fate, but the outcome varies depending on the signals involved. B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS) engenders survival and antibody secretion, whereas CD40 costimulation with IL-21 or IFN-? promotes a T-bet+ B cell phenotype. Finally, in vivo immunization studies revealed that when protein antigens are conjugated with DNA, the humoral immune response is blunted and acquires features associated with T-bet+ B cell differentiation. We propose that this mechanism integrating BCR, TLR9, and cytokine signals provides a peripheral checkpoint for DNA-containing antigens that, if circumvented by survival and differentiative cues, yields B cells with the autoimmune-associated T-bet+ phenotype.
Project description:The production of antibody-secreting plasma cells and memory B cells requires the interaction of T follicular helper (Tfh) cells with B cells in the follicle and is modulated by T follicular regulatory (Tfr) cells. We compare the effects of Tfr cells in an in vitro model of bystander Tfh function in the absence of BCR engagement and in a model in which mimics cognate T-B interactions in which the BCR is engaged. In the absence of Tfr cells, Tfh cells from primed mice induce naive B cell differentiation into GC B cells and class switch recombination (CSR) in the presence of anti-CD3 alone or anti-CD3/IgM in a contact-dependent manner. Addition of primed Tfr cells efficiently suppressed GC B cell proliferation, differentiation and CSR in the anti-CD3 alone cultures, but only moderately suppressed BCR-stimulated B cells. When stimulated with anti-CD3 alone, IL-4 is critical for the induction of GC B cells and CSR. IL-21 plays a minimal role in GC B cell differentiation, but a greater role in switching. When the BCR is engaged, IL-4 is primarily required for switching and IL-21 only modestly affects switching. CD40L expression was critical for Tfh-mediated B cell proliferation/differentiation in the absence of B cell engagement. When the BCR was engaged, proliferation of CD40 deficient B cells was partially restored, but was susceptible to suppression by Tfr. These studies suggest that in vitro Tfr suppressor function is complex and is modulated by BCR signaling and CD40-CD40L interactions.
Project description:A chronic antigenic stimulation is believed to sustain the leukemogenic development of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and most of lymphoproliferative malignancies developed from mature B cells. Reproducing a proliferative stimulation ex vivo is critical to decipher the mechanisms of leukemogenesis in these malignancies. However, functional studies of CLL cells remains limited since current ex vivo B cell receptor (BCR) stimulation protocols are not sufficient to induce the proliferation of these cells, pointing out the need of mandatory BCR co-factors in this process. Here, we investigated benefits of several BCR co-stimulatory molecules (IL-2, IL-4, IL-15, IL-21 and CD40 ligand) in multiple culture conditions. Our results demonstrated that BCR engagement (anti-IgM ligation) concomitant to CD40 ligand, IL-4 and IL-21 stimulation allowed CLL cells proliferation ex vivo. In addition, we established a proliferative advantage for ZAP70 positive CLL cells, associated to an increased phosphorylation of ZAP70/SYK and STAT6. Moreover, the use of a tri-dimensional matrix of methylcellulose and the addition of TLR9 agonists further increased this proliferative response. This ex vivo model of BCR stimulation with T-derived cytokines is a relevant and efficient model for functional studies of CLL as well as lymphoproliferative malignancies.
Project description:In a classical dogma, pathogens are sensed (via recognition of Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPs)) by innate immune cells that in turn activate adaptive immune cells. However, recent data showed that TLRs (Toll Like Receptors), the most characterized class of Pattern Recognition Receptors, are also expressed by adaptive immune B cells. B cells play an important role in protective immunity essentially by differentiating into antibody-secreting cells (ASC). This differentiation requires at least two signals: the recognition of an antigen by the B cell specific receptor (BCR) and a T cell co-stimulatory signal provided mainly by CD154/CD40L acting on CD40. In order to better understand interactions of innate and adaptive B cell stimulatory signals, we evaluated the outcome of combinations of TLRs, BCR and/or CD40 stimulation. For this purpose, mouse spleen B cells were activated with synthetic TLR agonists, recombinant mouse CD40L and agonist anti-BCR antibodies. As expected, TLR agonists induced mouse B cell proliferation and activation or differentiation into ASC. Interestingly, addition of CD40 signal to TLR agonists stimulated either B cell proliferation and activation (TLR3, TLR4, and TLR9) or differentiation into ASC (TLR1/2, TLR2/6, TLR4 and TLR7). Addition of a BCR signal to CD40L and either TLR3 or TLR9 agonists did not induce differentiation into ASC, which could be interpreted as an entrance into the memory pathway. In conclusion, our results suggest that PAMPs synergize with signals from adaptive immunity to regulate B lymphocyte fate during humoral immune response.
Project description:CD40L and B lymphocyte-activating factor (BAFF), members of the TNF superfamily, play critical roles in B cell survival and activation, and in the regulation of humoral immunity. We previously reported that the adaptor molecule Act1 functions as a negative regulator of CD40- and BAFF-mediated B cell survival. Here we demonstrated that mice deficient in Act1 developed systemic autoimmune disease with histological and serological features of human Sjögren's syndrome (SS), in association with systemic lupus erythematosus-like nephritis. Analyses of Act1(-/-)CD40(-/-) and Act1(-/-)BAFF(-/-) double-deficient mice revealed that Act1 regulates different stages of the disease development through its impact on both CD40- and BAFF-mediated pathways. We found that Act1 modulates the survival of autoreactive B cells mainly through its negative regulatory role in BAFF-mediated cell survival, while the effect of Act1 on autoantibody production is likely through modulation of CD40-mediated T cell-dependent antibody response. The impact of Act1 on both BAFF and CD40 pathways establishes Act1-deficient mice as a unique model to study distinct steps of autoimmunity and regulation of self tolerance.
Project description:p38MAP kinase (MAPK) signal transduction pathways are important regulators of inflammation and the immune response; their involvement in immune cell development and function is still largely unknown. Here we analysed the role of the p38 MAPK isoforms p38? and p38? in B cell differentiation in bone marrow (BM) and spleen, using mice lacking p38? and p38?, or conditional knockout mice that lack both p38? and p38? specifically in the B cell compartment. We found that the B cell differentiation programme in the BM was not affected in p38?/?-deficient mice. Moreover, these mice had reduced numbers of peripheral B cells as well as altered marginal zone B cell differentiation in the spleen. Expression of co-stimulatory proteins and activation markers in p38?/?-deficient B cells are diminished in response to B cell receptor (BCR) and CD40 stimulation; p38? and p38? were necessary for B cell proliferation induced by BCR and CD40 but not by TLR4 signaling. Furthermore, p38?/?-null mice produced significantly lower antibody responses to T-dependent antigens. Our results identify unreported functions for p38? and p38? in B cells and in the T-dependent humoral response; and show that the combined activity of these kinases is needed for peripheral B cell differentiation and function.
Project description:BAFF is a B cell survival and maturation factor implicated in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In this in vitro study, we describe that soluble BAFF in combination with IL-2 and IL-21 is a T cell contact-independent inducer of human B cell proliferation, plasmablast differentiation, and IgG secretion from circulating CD27<sup>+</sup> memory and memory-like CD27<sup>-</sup>IgD<sup>-</sup> double-negative (DN) B cells, but not CD27<sup>-</sup>IgD<sup>+</sup> naive B cells. In contrast, soluble CD40L in combination with IL-2 and IL-21 induces these activities in both memory and naive B cells. Blood from healthy donors and SLE patients have similar circulating levels of IL-2, whereas SLE patients exhibit elevated BAFF and DN B cells and reduced IL-21. B cell differentiation transcription factors in memory, DN, and naive B cells in SLE show elevated levels of Aiolos, whereas Ikaros levels are unchanged. Treatment with CC-220, a modulator of the cullin ring ligase 4-cereblon E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, reduces Aiolos and Ikaros protein levels and BAFF- and CD40L-induced proliferation, plasmablast differentiation, and IgG secretion. The observation that the soluble factors BAFF, IL-2, and IL-21 induce memory and DN B cell activation and differentiation has implications for extrafollicular plasmablast development within inflamed tissue. Inhibition of B cell plasmablast differentiation by reduction of Aiolos and Ikaros may have utility in the treatment of SLE, where elevated levels of BAFF and Aiolos may prime CD27<sup>+</sup> memory and DN memory-like B cells to become Ab-producing plasmablasts in the presence of BAFF and proinflammatory cytokines.
Project description:Endogenous expression of the adaptor protein hematopoietic Src homology 2-containing adaptor protein (HSH2) is regulated in a dynamic manner during B cell maturation and differentiation. Developing B cells lack detectable HSH2, whereas transitional 1 and 2 B cells in the periphery exhibit increasing levels of expression. Mature follicular B cells exhibit decreased expression of HSH2 compared with transitional 2 B cells, and expression is further downregulated in germinal center B cells. In contrast, marginal zone B cells and B1a/b B cells exhibit high-level HSH2 expression. Regulation of HSH2 expression plays a critical role in determining the outcome of the humoral immune response as demonstrated using HSH2 transgenic (Tg) mice. Constitutive expression of HSH2 in the B lineage at levels comparable to B1a/b B cells results in decreased serum Ig titers for all subclasses with the exception of IgA. HSH2 Tg mice immunized with T-dependent or T-independent Ags exhibit a moderate decrease in the production of Ag-specific IgM, whereas class-switched isotypes are decreased by ?80-90% compared with control mice. Analysis of HSH2 Tg B cell activation in vitro demonstrated that HSH2 selectively regulates the B cell response to TNF family receptors (i.e., CD40 and BAFF-R), but not BCR- or TLR-dependent signals. These data demonstrate that changes in HSH2 expression have profound effects on the humoral immune response.
Project description:The development and function of B lymphocytes is regulated by numerous signaling pathways, some emanating from the B-cell antigen receptor (BCR). The spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk) plays a central role in the activation of the BCR, but less is known about its contribution to the survival and maintenance of mature B cells. We generated mice with an inducible and B-cell-specific deletion of the Syk gene and found that a considerable fraction of mature Syk-negative B cells can survive in the periphery for an extended time. Syk-negative B cells are defective in BCR, RP105 and CD38 signaling but still respond to an IL-4, anti-CD40, CpG or LPS stimulus. Our in vivo experiments show that Syk-deficient B cells require BAFF receptor and CD19/PI3K signaling for their long-term survival. These studies also shed a new light on the signals regulating the maintenance of the normal mature murine B-cell pool.