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Bull Math Biol. 2013 Jan;75(1):185-205. doi: 10.1007/s11538-012-9799-9. Epub 2013 Jan 8.

A model for migratory B cell oscillations from receptor down-regulation induced by external chemokine fields.

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  • 1Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27705, USA. cliburn.chan@duke.edu

Abstract

A long-standing paradigm in B cell immunology is that effective somatic hypermutation and affinity maturation require cycling between the dark zone and light zone of the germinal center. The cyclic re-entry hypothesis was first proposed based on considerations of the efficiency of affinity maturation using an ordinary differential equations model for B cell population dynamics. More recently, two-photon microscopy studies of B cell motility within lymph nodes in situ have revealed the complex migration patterns of B lymphocytes both in the preactivation follicle and post-activation germinal center. There is strong evidence that chemokines secreted by stromal cells and the regulation of cognate G-protein coupled receptors by these chemokines are necessary for the observed spatial cell distributions. For example, the distribution of B cells within the light and dark zones of the germinal center appears to be determined by the reciprocal interaction between the level of the CXCR4 and CXCR5 receptors and the spatial distribution of their respective chemokines CXCL12 and CXCL13. Computer simulations of individual-based models have been used to study the complex biophysical and mechanistic processes at the individual cell level, but such simulations can be challenging to parameterize and analyze. In contrast, ordinary differential equations are more tractable, but traditional compartment model formalizations ignore the spatial chemokine distribution that drives B cell redistribution. Motivated by the desire to understand the motility patterns observed in an individual-based simulation of B cell migration in the lymph node, we propose and analyze the dynamics of an ordinary differential equation model incorporating explicit chemokine spatial distributions. While there is experimental evidence that B cell migration patterns in the germinal center are driven by extrinsically regulated differentiation programs, the model shows, perhaps surprisingly, that feedback from receptor down-regulation induced by external chemokine fields can give rise to spontaneous interzonal and intrazonal oscillations in the absence of any extrinsic regulation. While the extent to which such simple feedback mechanisms contributes to B cell migration patterns in the germinal center is unknown, the model provides an alternative hypothesis for how complex B cell migration patterns might arise from very simple mechanisms.

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