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J Immunol. 2009 Jun 15;182(12):7729-37. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0803281.

B cell receptor-mediated sustained c-Rel activation facilitates late transitional B cell survival through control of B cell activating factor receptor and NF-kappaB2.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.


Signaling from the BCR and B cell activating factor receptor (BAFF-R or BR3) differentially regulates apoptosis within early transitional (T1) and late transitional (T2; CD21(int)-T2) B cells during selection processes to generate mature B lymphocytes. However, molecular mechanisms underlying the differential sensitivity of transitional B cells to apoptosis remain unclear. In this study, we demonstrate that BCR signaling induced more long-term c-Rel activation in T2 and mature than in T1 B cells leading to increased expression of anti-apoptotic genes as well as prosurvival BAFF-R and its downstream substrate p100 (NF-kappaB2). Sustained c-Rel activation required de novo c-Rel gene transcription and translation via Btk-dependent mechanisms. Like T1 cells, mature B cells from Btk- and c-Rel-deficient mice also failed to activate these genes. These findings suggest that the gain of survival potential within transitional B cells is dependent on the ability to produce a long-term c-Rel response, which plays a critical role in T2 B cell survival and differentiation in vivo by inducing anti-apoptotic genes, BAFF-R and NF-kappaB2, an essential component for BAFF-R survival signaling. Thus, acquisition of resistance to apoptosis during transitional B cell maturation is achieved by integration of BCR and BAFF-R signals.

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