Follicular dendritic cell Fc gamma RIIB prevents survival of less-developed B cells: single cell sequence analysis from autoreactive germinal centers
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BACKGROUND: Previous work has shown that follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) play an important role in selecting B cells such that antigens are responded to in a specific manner. FcγRΙΙB (CD32) is an antibody constant-region receptor found on FDCs and mutation of this receptor in humans is associated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). In addition, previous work has demonstrated that autoreactive germinal centers are the product of expression of interferon alpha (ΙFNα) by FDCs, so FcγRIIB signaling may involve modulation of IFNα signaling. OBJECTIVE: Because FcγRIIB mutation is associated with SLE and FDCs have been shown to be important in orchestrating B cell responses, understanding FcγRIIB on FDCs helps characterize B cell repertoire development in response to antigen—whether the antigen is foreign or self, as is the case in autoimmunity. Better characterization of the role of FcγRIIB could have consequences for autoimmune and cancer therapy. This study seeks to determine the role of FcγRΙΙB on FDCs in germinal center B cell selection dynamics within single, autoreactive germinal centers. METHODS: This study compares transplanted wild-type (B6) B cells—that are driven to be autoimmune by simultaneously transplanted autoimmune B cells—in two stromal cell settings: first, in germinal centers containing wild-type FDCs and second, in germinal centers containing FcγRIIB-knockout FDCs. Transplanted B6 B cell populations express photoactivatable protein, which allows for sorting of B cells from individual germinal centers. B cell sequences from single germinal centers were analyzed to determine how focused each germinal center response was and how the B cells differ in maturity and affinity for antigen. Finally, mice expressing a lineage-tracing system were treated with IFNα in order to observe the cytokine’s effect on B cell selection. RESULTS: Cells sorted from germinal centers containing FcγRIIB-knockout FDCs contain a distinguished population of less-developed B cells, as quantified by population-based analysis of their variable heavy chain genes. Overall, the IgM sequences from B cells sorted from germinal centers (GCs) containing FcγRIIB-knockout follicular dendritic cells displayed lower levels of somatic hypermutation (SHM) (p<.05) and shorter hypervariable regions (CDR3) (p<.05) compared to other B cell populations. Values computed to summarize how many different B cell lineages were present in a GC—its “clonality”—did not vary between the two mouse populations, although FcγRIIB-knockout FDC germinal centers displayed a correlation between clonality and immunoglobulin (Ig) isotype expression (R2= .85). Finally, lineage tracing mice receiving injections of interferon alpha (IFNα) displayed no difference in GC clonality compared to those receiving vehicle and assays of IFNα downstream signaling genes also displayed no change. CONCLUSIONS: FcγRIIB encourages more stringent selection of immature B cells in germinal centers as evidenced by survival of less developed B cells as defined by degree of somatic hypermutation and CDR3 length in GCs comprising FcγRIIB-knockout FDCs. In spite of this, sequence-based measures of germinal center clonality as completed here may fail to capture the functional results of B cell selection. In addition, the link between FcγRIIB and IFNα requires further investigation.
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