B cells diversify and affinity mature their antigen receptor repertoire in germinal centers (GCs). GC B cells receive help signals during transient interaction with T cells, yet it remains unknown how these transient T-B interactions in the light zone sustain the subsequent proliferative program of selected B cells that occurs in the anatomically distant dark zone. Here, we show that the transcription factor AP4 was required for sustained GC B cell proliferation and subsequent establishment of a diverse and protective antibody repertoire. AP4 was induced by c-MYC during the T-B interactions, was maintained by T-cell-derived interleukin-21 (IL-21), and promoted repeated rounds of divisions of selected GC B cells. B-cell-specific deletion of AP4 resulted in reduced GC sizes and reduced somatic hypermutation coupled with a failure to control chronic viral infection. These results indicate that AP4 integrates T-cell-mediated selection and sustained expansion of GC B cells for humoral immunity.
Interleukin 7 (IL-7) promotes pre-B cell survival and proliferation by activating the Pim1 and Akt kinases. These signals must be attenuated to induce G1 cell cycle arrest and expression of the RAG endonuclease, which are both required for IgL chain gene rearrangement. As lost IL-7 signals would limit pre-B cell survival, how cells survive during IgL chain gene rearrangement remains unclear. We show that RAG-induced DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) generated during IgL chain gene assembly paradoxically promote pre-B cell survival. This occurs through the ATM-dependent induction of Pim2 kinase expression. Similar to Pim1, Pim2 phosphorylates BAD, which antagonizes the pro-apoptotic function of BAX. However, unlike IL-7 induction of Pim1, RAG DSB-mediated induction of Pim2 does not drive proliferation. Rather, Pim2 has antiproliferative functions that prevent the transit of pre-B cells harboring RAG DSBs from G1 into S phase, where these DNA breaks could be aberrantly repaired. Thus, signals from IL-7 and RAG DSBs activate distinct Pim kinase family members that have context-dependent activities in regulating pre-B cell proliferation and survival.
Upon intravenous transplantation, hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) can home to specialized niches, yet most HSCs fail to engraft unless recipients are subjected to toxic preconditioning. We provide evidence that, aside from immune barriers, donor HSC engraftment is restricted by occupancy of appropriate niches by host HSCs. Administration of ACK2, an antibody that blocks c-kit function, led to the transient removal of >98% of endogenous HSCs in immunodeficient mice. Subsequent transplantation of these mice with donor HSCs led to chimerism levels of up to 90%. Extrapolation of these methods to humans may enable mild but effective conditioning regimens for transplantation.
Mature blood cells develop from multipotent hematopoietic stem cells through a series of sequential intermediates in which the developmental potential for particular blood lineages is progressively extinguished. We previously reported the identification of one of these developmental intermediates, the common lymphoid progenitor (CLP), which can give rise to T cells, B cells, dendritic cells (DCs), and natural killer cells (NKs), but lacks myeloid and erythroid potential. Recently, several studies have suggested that the T-cell and DC potential of CLP is limited or absent, and/or that CLP contains significant myeloid potential. Here, we show that the originally identified CLP population can be divided into functionally distinct subsets based on the expression of the tyrosine kinase receptor, Flk2. The Flk2(+) subset contains robust in vivo and in vitro T-cell, B-cell, DC, and NK potential, but lacks myeloid potential and, therefore, represents an oligopotent, lymphoid-restricted progenitor. This population of cells does not appear to be B cell-biased and robustly reconstitutes both B and T lineages in vivo, consistent with its being a physiologic progenitor of both of these subsets. Thus, Flk2 expression defines a homogeneous, readily obtainable subset of bone marrow CLP that is completely lymphoid-committed and can differentiate equivalently well into both B and T lineages.
This review focuses on the genomics of mouse hematopoiesis, but also draws parallels to other systems and discusses issues common to the analysis of rare populations such as stem cells. As examples from the mouse blood forming system are used to illustrate several points, the authors first give a brief introduction to mouse hematopoiesis as a model system. We review the multiple microarray analyses that have been performed on various mouse hematopoietic subpopulations and comment on both technical and biological aspects of such experiments. The concept of stemness is discussed, and the importance of biological function of gene products, protein-protein interactions and molecular pathways highlighted. Finally, the authors discuss some major unresolved issues in hematopoiesis and discuss the potential uses of future microarray analysis as well as other genomic and functional approaches that might prove useful to further our understanding of hematopoiesis and other stem cell systems.