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Eur J Immunol. 2011 Aug;41(8):2404-13. doi: 10.1002/eji.201141553. Epub 2011 Jul 6.

Alternate pathways for Bcl6-mediated regulation of B cell to plasma cell differentiation.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.


The transcription factor Bcl6 regulates germinal center formation and differentiation of B cells into high-affinity antibody-producing plasma cells. The direct double-negative regulatory circuit between Bcl6 and Blimp-1 is well established. We now reveal alternative mechanisms for Bcl6-mediated regulation of B-cell differentiation to plasma cells and show with DT40 cells that Bcl6 directly promotes the expression of Bach2, a known suppressor of Blimp-1. Moreover, Bcl6 suppresses Blimp-1 expression through direct binding to the IRF4 gene, as well as by promoting the expression of MITF, a known suppressor of IRF4. We also provide evidence that Bcl6 is needed for the expression of AID and UNG, the indispensable proteins for somatic hypermutation and class-switch recombination, and UNG appears to be a direct Bcl6 target. Our findings reveal a complex regulatory network in which Bcl6 acts as a key element dictating the transition of DT40 B cells to plasma cells.

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