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J Immunol. 2012 Jun 15;188(12):6093-108. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1103037. Epub 2012 May 18.

A p53 axis regulates B cell receptor-triggered, innate immune system-driven B cell clonal expansion.

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  • 1Laboratory of B Cell Biology, Karches Center for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Research, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, NY 11030, USA.


Resting mature human B cells undergo a dynamic process of clonal expansion, followed by clonal contraction, during an in vitro response to surrogate C3d-coated Ag and innate immune system cytokines, IL-4 and BAFF. In this study, we explore the mechanism for clonal contraction through following the time- and division-influenced expression of several pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins within CFSE-labeled cultures. Several findings, involving both human and mouse B cells, show that a mitochondria-dependent apoptotic pathway involving p53 contributes to the high activation-induced cell death (AICD) susceptibility of replicating blasts. Activated B cell clones exhibit elevated p53 protein and elevated mRNA/protein of proapoptotic molecules known to be under direct p53 transcriptional control, Bax, Bad, Puma, Bid, and procaspase 6, accompanied by reduced anti-apoptotic Bcl-2. Under these conditions, Bim levels were not increased. The finding that full-length Bid protein significantly declines in AICD-susceptible replicating blasts, whereas Bid mRNA does not, suggests that Bid is actively cleaved to short-lived, proapoptotic truncated Bid. AICD was diminished, albeit not eliminated, by p53 small interfering RNA transfection, genetic deletion of p53, or Bcl-2 overexpression. DNA damage is a likely trigger for p53-dependent AICD because susceptible lymphoblasts expressed significantly elevated levels of both phosphorylated ataxia telangiectasia mutated-Ser(1980) and phospho-H2AX-Ser(139). Deficiency in activation-induced cytosine deaminase diminishes but does not ablate murine B cell AICD, indicating that activation-induced cytosine deaminase-induced DNA damage is only in part responsible. Evidence for p53-influenced AICD during this route of T cell-independent clonal expansion raises the possibility that progeny bearing p53 mutations might undergo positive selection in peripherally inflamed tissues with elevated levels of IL-4 and BAFF.

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