Tunable dynamics of BÂ cell selection in gut germinal centres
Germinal centres, the structures in which B cells evolve to produce antibodies with high affinity for various antigens, usually form transiently in lymphoid organs in response to infection or immunization. In lymphoid organs associated with the gut, however, germinal centres are chronically present. These gut-associated germinal centres can supportÂ targeted antibody responses to gut infections and immunization1. But whether BÂ cell selection and antibody affinity maturation take place in the face of the chronic and diverse antigenic stimulation characteristic of these structuresÂ under steady state is less clear2-8. Here, by combining multicolour 'Brainbow' cell-fate mapping and sequencing of immunoglobulin genes from single cells, we find that 5-10% of gut-associated germinal centres from specific-pathogen-free (SPF) mice contain highly dominant 'winner' BÂ cell clones at steady state, despite rapid turnover of germinal-centre B cells. Monoclonal antibodies derived from these clones show increased binding, compared with their unmutated precursors, to commensal bacteria, consistent with antigen-driven selection. The frequency of highly selected gut-associated germinal centres is markedly higher in germ-free than in SPF mice, and winner B cells in germ-free germinal centres are enriched in 'public' clonotypes found in multiple individuals, indicating strong selection of BÂ cell antigen receptors evenÂ in the absence of microbiota. Colonization of germ-free mice with a defined microbial consortium (Oligo-MM12) does not eliminate germ-free-associated clonotypes, yet does induce a concomitant commensal-specific BÂ cell response with the hallmarks of antigen-driven selection. Thus, positive selection of B cells can take place in steady-state gut-associated germinal centres, at a rate that is tunable over a wide range by the presence and composition of the microbiota.
Germinal center B cells recognize antigen through a specialized immune synapse architecture
B cell activation is regulated by B cell antigen receptor (BCR) signaling and antigen internalization in immune synapses. Using large-scale imaging across B cell subsets, we found that, in contrast with naive and memory B cells, which gathered antigen toward the synapse center before internalization, germinal center (GC) B cells extracted antigen by a distinct pathway using small peripheral clusters. Both naive and GC B cell synapses required proximal BCR signaling, but GC cells signaled less through the protein kinase C-Î²-NF-ÎºB pathway and produced stronger tugging forces on the BCR, thereby more stringently regulating antigen binding. Consequently, GC B cells extracted antigen with better affinity discrimination than naive B cells, suggesting that specialized biomechanical patterns in B cell synapses regulate T cell-dependent selection of high-affinity B cells in GCs.
Continually recruited naïve T cells contribute to the follicular helper and regulatory T cell pools in germinal centers
Follicular helper T cells (TFH) mediate B cell selection and clonal expansion in germinal centers (GCs), and follicular regulatory T cells (TFR) prevent the emergence of self-reactive B cells and help to extinguish the reaction. Here we show that GC reactions continually recruit T cells from both the naïve conventional and naive thymic regulatory T cell (Treg) repertoires. In the early GC, newly recruited T cells develop into TFH, whereas cells entering during the contraction phase develop into TFR cells that contribute to GC dissolution. The TFR fate decision is associated with decreased antigen availability and is modulated by slow antigen delivery or mRNA vaccination. Thus, invasion of ongoing GCs by newly developing TFH and TFR helps remodel the GC based on antigen availability.
B cells and the intestinal microbiome in time, space and place
The gut immune system is shaped by the continuous interaction with the microbiota. Here we dissect temporal, spatial and contextual layers of gut B cell responses. The microbiota impacts on the selection of the developing pool of pre-immune B cells that serves as substrate for B cell activation, expansion and differentiation. However, various aspects of the gut B cell response display unique features. In particular, occurrence of somatically mutated B cells, chronic gut germinal centers in T cell-deficient settings and polyreactive binding of gut IgA to the microbiota questioned the nature and microbiota-specificity of gut germinal centers. We propose a model to reconcile these observations incorporating recent work demonstrating microbiota-specificity of gut germinal centers. We speculate that adjuvant effects of the microbiota might modify permissiveness for B cell to enter and exit gut germinal centers. We propose that separating aspects of time, space and place facilitate the occasionally puzzling discussion of gut B cell responses to the microbiota.
Dynamic regulation of TFH selection during the germinal centre reaction
The germinal centre is a dynamic microenvironment in which B cells that express high-affinity antibody variants produced by somatic hypermutation are selected for clonal expansion by limiting the numbers of T follicular helper cells1,2. Although much is known about the mechanisms that control the selection of B cells in the germinal centre, far less is understood about the clonal behaviour of the T follicular helper cells that help to regulate this process. Here we report on the dynamic behaviour of T follicular helper cell clones during the germinal centre reaction. We find that, similar to germinal centre B cells, T follicular helper cells undergo antigen-dependent selection throughout the germinal centre reaction that results in differential proliferative expansion and contraction. Increasing the amount of antigen presented in the germinal centre leads to increased division of T follicular helper cells. Competition between T follicular helper cell clones is mediated by the affinity of T cell receptors for peptide-major-histocompatibility-complex ligands. T cells that preferentially expand in the germinal centre show increased expression of genes downstream of the T cell receptor, such as those required for metabolic reprogramming, cell division and cytokine production. These dynamic changes lead to marked remodelling of the functional T follicular helper cell repertoire during the germinal centre reaction.
Class-Switch Recombination Occurs Infrequently in Germinal Centers
Class-switch recombination (CSR) is a DNA recombination process that replaces the immunoglobulin (Ig) constant region for the isotype that can best protect against the pathogen. Dysregulation of CSR can cause self-reactive BCRs and B cell lymphomas; understanding the timing and location of CSR is therefore important. Although CSR commences upon TÂ cell priming, it is generally considered a hallmark of germinal centers (GCs). Here, we have used multiple approaches to show that CSR is triggered prior to differentiation into GC B cells or plasmablasts and is greatly diminished in GCs. Despite finding a small percentage of GC B cells expressing germline transcripts, phylogenetic trees of GC BCRs from secondary lymphoid organs revealed that the vast majority of CSR events occurred prior to the onset of somatic hypermutation. As such, we have demonstrated the existence of IgM-dominated GCs, which are unlikely to occur under the assumption of ongoing switching.
MHC class II cell-autonomously regulates self-renewal and differentiation of normal and malignant B cells
Best known for presenting antigenic peptides to CD4+ T cells, major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC II) also transmits or may modify intracellular signals. Here, we show that MHC II cell-autonomously regulates the balance between self-renewal and differentiation in B-cell precursors, as well as in malignant B cells. Initiation of MHC II expression early during bone marrow B-cell development limited the occupancy of cycling compartments by promoting differentiation, thus regulating the numerical output of B cells. MHC II deficiency preserved stem cell characteristics in developing pro-B cells in vivo, and ectopic MHC II expression accelerated hematopoietic stem cell differentiation in vitro. Moreover, MHC II expression restrained growth of murine B-cell leukemia cell lines in vitro and in vivo, independently of CD4+ T-cell surveillance. Our results highlight an important cell-intrinsic contribution of MHC II expression to establishing the differentiated B-cell phenotype.
Myosin IIa Promotes Antibody Responses by Regulating B Cell Activation, Acquisition of Antigen, and Proliferation
B cell responses are regulated by antigen acquisition, processing, and presentation to helper TÂ cells. These functions are thought to depend on contractile activity of non-muscle myosin IIa. Here, we show that B cell-specific deletion of the myosin IIa heavy chain reduced the numbers of bone marrow B cell precursors and splenic marginal zone, peritoneal B1b, and germinal center B cells. In addition, myosin IIa-deficient follicular B cells acquired an activated phenotype and were less efficient in chemokinesis and extraction of membrane-presented antigens. Moreover, myosin IIa was indispensable for cytokinesis. Consequently, mice with myosin IIa-deficient B cells harbored reduced serum immunoglobulin levels and did not mount robust antibody responses when immunized. Altogether, these data indicate that myosin IIa is a negative regulator of B cell activation but a positive regulator of antigen acquisition from antigen-presenting cells and that myosin IIa is essential for B cell development, proliferation, and antibody responses.
Plasma Membrane Sheets for Studies of B Cell Antigen Internalization from Immune Synapses
Surrogate planar and membrane systems have been employed to study the architecture of immune synapses; however, they often do not recapitulate trans-synaptic extraction and endocytosis of ligands by the immune cells. Transendocytosis (or trogocytosis) of antigen from immune synapses is particularly critical for antigen processing and presentation by B cells. Here we describe a protocol for preparation of plasma membrane sheets (PMSs), which are flexible and fluid membrane substrates that support robust B cell antigen extraction. We show how to attach B cell antigens to the PMSs and how to investigate antigen extraction and endocytosis by fluorescent microscopy and computational image analysis. These techniques should be broadly applicable to studies of transendocytosis in a variety of cellular systems.
WASp-dependent actin cytoskeleton stability at the dendritic cell immunological synapse is required for extensive, functional T cell contacts
The immunological synapse is a highly structured and molecularly dynamic interface between communicating immune cells. Although the immunological synapse promotes T cell activation by dendritic cells, the specific organization of the immunological synapse on the dendritic cell side in response to T cell engagement is largely unknown. In this study, confocal and electron microscopy techniques were used to investigate the role of dendritic cell actin regulation in immunological synapse formation, stabilization, and function. In the dendritic cell-restricted absence of the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein, an important regulator of the actin cytoskeleton in hematopoietic cells, the immunological synapse contact with T cells occupied a significantly reduced surface area. At a molecular level, the actin network localized to the immunological synapse exhibited reduced stability, in particular, of the actin-related protein-2/3-dependent, short-filament network. This was associated with decreased polarization of dendritic cell-associated ICAM-1 and MHC class II, which was partially dependent on Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein phosphorylation. With the use of supported planar lipid bilayers incorporating anti-ICAM-1 and anti-MHC class II antibodies, the dendritic cell actin cytoskeleton organized into recognizable synaptic structures but interestingly, formed Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein-dependent podosomes within this area. These findings demonstrate that intrinsic dendritic cell cytoskeletal remodeling is a key regulatory component of normal immunological synapse formation, likely through consolidation of adhesive interaction and modulation of immunological synapse stability.