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J Immunol. 2013 Feb 15;190(4):1447-56. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1202115. Epub 2013 Jan 7.

TLR9 promotes tolerance by restricting survival of anergic anti-DNA B cells, yet is also required for their activation.

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  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.

Abstract

Nucleic acid-reactive B cells frequently arise in the bone marrow but are tolerized by mechanisms including receptor editing, functional anergy, and/or deletion. TLR9, a sensor of endosomal dsDNA, both promotes and regulates systemic autoimmunity in vivo, but the precise nature of its apparently contradictory roles in autoimmunity remained unclear. In this study, using the 3H9 anti-DNA BCR transgene in the autoimmune-prone MRL.Fas(lpr) mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus, we identify the stages at which TLR9 contributes to establishing and breaking B cell tolerance. Although TLR9 is dispensable for L chain editing during B cell development in the bone marrow, TLR9 limits anti-DNA B cell life span in the periphery and is thus tolerogenic. In the absence of TLR9, anti-DNA B cells have much longer life spans and accumulate in the follicle, neither activated nor deleted. These cells retain some characteristics of anergic cells, in that they have elevated basal BCR signaling but impaired induced responses and downregulate their cell-surface BCR expression. In contrast, whereas TLR9-intact anergic B cells accumulate near the T/B border, TLR9-deficient anti-DNA B cells are somewhat more dispersed throughout the follicle. Nonetheless, in older autoimmune-prone animals, TLR9 expression specifically within the B cell compartment is required for spontaneous peripheral activation of anti-DNA B cells and their differentiation into Ab-forming cells via an extrafollicular pathway. Thus, TLR9 has paradoxical roles in regulating anti-DNA B cells: it helps purge the peripheral repertoire of autoreactive cells, yet is also required for their activation.

PMID:
23296704
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3563726
Free PMC Article
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