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J Immunol. 2003 Mar 1;170(5):2293-301.

The Yaa mutation promoting murine lupus causes defective development of marginal zone B cells.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.


The accelerated development of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in BXSB male mice is associated with the presence of an as yet unidentified mutant gene, Yaa (Y-linked autoimmune acceleration). In view of a possible role of marginal zone (MZ) B cells in murine SLE, we have explored whether the expression of the Yaa mutation affects the differentiation of MZ and follicular B cells, thereby implicating the acceleration of the disease. In this study, we show that both BXSB and C57BL/6 Yaa mice, including two different substrains of BXSB Yaa males that are protected from SLE, displayed an impaired development of MZ B cells early in life. Studies in bone marrow chimeras revealed that the loss of MZ B cells resulted from a defect intrinsic to B cells expressing the Yaa mutation. The lack of selective expansion of MZ B cells in diseased BXSB Yaa males strongly argues against a major role of MZ B cells in the generation of pathogenic autoantibodies in the BXSB model of SLE. Furthermore, a comparative analysis with mice deficient in CD22 or expressing an IgM anti-trinitrophenyl/DNA transgene suggests that the hyperreactive phenotype of Yaa B cells, as judged by a markedly increased spontaneous IgM secretion, is likely to contribute to the enhanced maturation toward follicular B cells and the block in the MZ B cell generation.

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