Send to

Choose Destination
J Exp Med. 2003 May 5;197(9):1125-39. Epub 2003 Apr 28.

Death by a B cell superantigen: In vivo VH-targeted apoptotic supraclonal B cell deletion by a Staphylococcal Toxin.

Author information

Department of Medicine, University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Amongst the many ploys used by microbial pathogens to interfere with host immune responses is the production of proteins with the properties of superantigens. These properties enable superantigens to interact with conserved variable region framework subdomains of the antigen receptors of lymphocytes rather than the complementarity determining region involved in the binding of conventional antigens. To understand how a B cell superantigen affects the host immune system, we infused protein A of Staphylococcus aureus (SpA) and followed the fate of peripheral B cells expressing B cell receptors (BCRs) with VH regions capable of binding SpA. Within hours, a sequence of events was initiated in SpA-binding splenic B cells, with rapid down-regulation of BCRs and coreceptors, CD19 and CD21, the induction of an activation phenotype, and limited rounds of proliferation. Apoptosis followed through a process heralded by the dissipation of mitochondrial membrane potential, the induction of the caspase pathway, and DNA fragmentation. After exposure, B cell apoptotic bodies were deposited in the spleen, lymph nodes, and Peyer's patches. Although in vivo apoptosis did not require the Fas death receptor, B cells were protected by interleukin (IL)-4 or CD40L, or overexpression of Bcl-2. These studies define a pathway for BCR-mediated programmed cell death that is VH region targeted by a superantigen.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center