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Immunity. 2006 Aug;25(2):225-36.

Graded expression of interferon regulatory factor-4 coordinates isotype switching with plasma cell differentiation.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


Molecular mechanisms underlying the coordination of isotype switching with plasma cell differentiation are poorly understood. We show that interferon regulatory factor-4 (IRF-4) regulates both processes by controlling the expression of the Aicda and Prdm1 genes, which encode AID and Blimp-1, respectively. Genome-wide analysis demonstrated that Irf4(-/-) B cells failed to induce the entire Blimp-1-dependent plasma cell program. Restoration of AID or Blimp-1 expression in Irf4(-/-) B cells promoted isotype switching or secretion, respectively. IRF-4 was expressed in a graded manner in differentiating B cells and targeted Prdm1. Higher concentration of IRF-4 induced Prdm1 and consequently the transition from a germinal center gene expression program to that of a plasma cell. We propose a gene-regulatory network in which graded expression of IRF-4 developmentally coordinates isotype switching with plasma cell differentiation.

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