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Eur J Immunol. 2002 Dec;32(12):3785-92.

Lack of deleterious somatic mutations in the CD95 gene of plasmablasts from systemic lupus erythematosus patients and autoantibody-producing cell lines.

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Institute for Genetics and Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.


The interaction of CD95 with its ligand CD95L is important for negative selection of B cells during the germinal center (GC) reaction. Recently, mutations conferring resistance to CD95-induced apoptosis have been described for human GC B cells. Hence, as has been demonstrated for CD95-deficient mice, also GC-derived autoreactive B cells carrying somatic CD95 gene mutations may potentially service negative selection and participate in the development of autoimmune diseases. Here, single plasmablasts (PB) which are implicated in the production of autoantibodies in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients as well as ten human B cell lines producing autoantibodies were analyzed for destructive somatic CD95 gene mutations. However, inactivating CD95 gene mutations were very rare in PB and not detected in the cell lines. Sequence analysis of V gene rearrangements amplified from single PB confirmed that the cells are (post) GC B cells and additionally demonstrated massive clonal expansion of these cells in two of four SLE patients. We conclude that CD95 gene mutations play little if any role in the generation of the pool of PB in SLE patients and that mutations in the CD95 gene are rare among autoantibody-producing B cells in SLE and rheumatoid arthritis.

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