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Blood. 2010 Feb 4;115(5):975-84. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-06-227017. Epub 2009 Dec 3.

Integrated biochemical and computational approach identifies BCL6 direct target genes controlling multiple pathways in normal germinal center B cells.

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Institute for Cancer Genetics and H. Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


BCL6 is a transcriptional repressor required for mature B-cell germinal center (GC) formation and implicated in lymphomagenesis. BCL6's physiologic function is only partially known because the complete set of its targets in GC B cells has not been identified. To address this issue, we used an integrated biochemical-computational-functional approach to identify BCL6 direct targets in normal GC B cells. This approach includes (1) identification of BCL6-bound promoters by genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation, (2) inference of transcriptional relationships by the use of a regulatory network reverse engineering approach (ARACNe), and (3) validation of physiologic relevance of the candidate targets down-regulated in GC B cells. Our approach demonstrated that a large set of promoters (> 4000) is physically bound by BCL6 but that only a fraction of them is repressed in GC B cells. This set of 1207 targets identifies several cellular functions directly controlled by BCL6 during GC development, including activation, survival, DNA-damage response, cell cycle arrest, cytokine signaling, Toll-like receptor signaling, and differentiation. These results define a broad role of BCL6 in preventing centroblasts from responding to signals leading to exit from the GC before they complete the phase of proliferative expansion and of antibody affinity maturation.

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