Genome-wide studies have identified associations between polymorphisms in the IFN regulatory factor-5 (Irf5) gene and a variety of human autoimmune diseases. Its functional role in disease pathogenesis, however, remains unclear, as studies in Irf5(-/-) mice have reached disparate conclusions regarding the importance of this transcription factor in type I IFN production and antibody responses. We identified a spontaneous genomic duplication and frameshift mutation in the guanine exchange factor dedicator of cytokinesis 2 (Dock2) that has arisen in at least a subset of circulating Irf5(-/-) mice and inadvertently been bred to homozygosity. Retroviral expression of DOCK2, but not IRF-5, rescued defects in plasmacytoid dendritic cell and B-cell development, and Irf5(-/-) mice lacking the mutation in Dock2 exhibited normal plasmacytoid dendritic cell and B-cell development, largely intact type I IFN responses, and relatively normal antibody responses to viral infection. Thus, confirmation of the normal Dock2 genotype in circulating Irf5(-/-) mice is warranted, and our data may partly explain conflicting results in this field.
Memory B cells (MBCs) and long-lived plasma cells (LLPCs) persist after clearance of infection, yet the specific and nonredundant role MBCs play in subsequent protection is unclear. After resolution of West Nile virus infection in mice, we demonstrate that LLPCs were specific for a single dominant neutralizing epitope, such that immune serum poorly inhibited a variant virus that encoded a mutation at this critical epitope. In contrast, a large fraction of MBC produced antibody that recognized both wild-type (WT) and mutant viral epitopes. Accordingly, antibody produced by the polyclonal pool of MBC neutralized WT and variant viruses equivalently. Remarkably, we also identified MBC clones that recognized the mutant epitope better than the WT protein, despite never having been exposed to the variant virus. The ability of MBCs to respond to variant viruses in vivo was confirmed by experiments in which MBCs were adoptively transferred or depleted before secondary challenge. Our data demonstrate that class-switched MBC can respond to variants of the original pathogen that escape neutralization of antibody produced by LLPC without a requirement for accumulating additional somatic mutations.
Genes regulating responses in mammalian cells are often difficult to identify by functional cloning strategies limited to a single round of selection. Here we describe a strategy, cyclical packaging rescue (CPR), which allows rapid recovery and retransmission of retroviral cDNA libraries. CPR can be used not only with immortalized cell lines such as fibroblasts and Jurkat T cells, but also with primary B lymphocytes, which can be maintained only in short-term cultures. CPR allows for multiple rounds of selection and enrichment to identify cDNAs regulating responses in mammalian cells. Using CPR, five cDNAs were functionally cloned, which conferred protection against tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha)-induced apoptosis in RelA(-/-) fibroblasts. Three of the genes, RelA, cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein (c-FLIP), and a dominant-negative mutant of TNF receptor 1 arising through CPR afforded strong protection against apoptosis. Two of the genes identified, Dbs and Fas-associated death domain protein (FADD), previously identified as a proapoptotic molecule, afforded partial protection against TNFalpha-induced apoptosis. These results suggest that CPR is a versatile method that permits functional identification of both wild-type and dominant-negative gene products that regulate cellular responses.
Aging of the hematopoietic stem cell compartment is believed to contribute to the onset of a variety of age-dependent blood cell pathophysiologies. Mechanistic drivers of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) aging include DNA damage accumulation and induction of tumor suppressor pathways that combine to reduce the regenerative capacity of aged HSCs. Such mechanisms do not however account for the change in lymphoid and myeloid lineage potential characteristic of HSC aging, which is believed to be central to the decline of immune competence and predisposition to myelogenous diseases in the elderly. Here we have prospectively isolated functionally distinct HSC clonal subtypes, based on cell surface phenotype, bearing intrinsically different capacities to differentiate toward lymphoid and myeloid effector cells mediated by quantitative differences in lineage priming. Finally, we present data supporting a model in which clonal expansion of a class of intrinsically myeloid-biased HSCs with robust self-renewal potential is a central component of hematopoietic aging.
Mutant NF-kappaB-deficient B cells from knockout mice lacking RelA, p105/p50 or the transactivation domain of c-Rel exhibit distinct and selective cell-intrinsic defects in their ability to undergo class switch recombination (CSR) to specific Ig isotypes. This isotype-specific requirement for particular NF-kappaB transcription factors in B cells activated to undergo CSR is intriguing because the NF-kappaB composition in B cells is also highly regulated and can vary significantly depending upon how B cells are activated. These studies prompted us to test by retroviral transduction of normal B cells whether changes in the NF-kappaB composition in activated B cells could modulate cytokine-driven CSR. RelB, RelA, c-Rel, p50 and p52 were first expressed in lipopolysaccharide-activated primary B cells and then induced by cytokine addition to undergo CSR to IgG1, IgE, IgG2a, IgG2b or IgA. Surprisingly, only retroviral expression of RelB altered CSR, resulting in a 3-fold decrease in CSR to IgG1 induced by IL-4. This effect was isotype specific as RelB expression did not affect CSR to IgE within the same culture or to other isotypes tested. The transactivation domain of RelB was required for inhibition of CSR to IgG1. Expression of p50-RelB or p52-RelB dimers joined covalently by a flexible peptide linker also specifically inhibited IgG1 CSR. RelB-mediated inhibition of IgG1 CSR was associated with a decrease in germline gamma1 transcription, but not with changes in proliferation as assayed by CFSE labeling. Thus, RelB complexes can specifically inhibit CSR to IgG1, but not IgE, in activated, primary B cells.