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Immunity. 2012 Sep 21;37(3):535-48. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2012.06.015.

Oxysterol gradient generation by lymphoid stromal cells guides activated B cell movement during humoral responses.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


7α,25-dihydroxycholesterol (7α,25-OHC) is a ligand for the G protein-coupled receptor EBI2; however, the cellular sources of this oxysterol are undefined. 7α,25-OHC is synthesized from cholesterol by the stepwise actions of two enzymes, CH25H and CYP7B1, and is metabolized to a 3-oxo derivative by HSD3B7. We showed that all three enzymes control EBI2 ligand concentration in lymphoid tissues. Lymphoid stromal cells were the main CH25H- and CYP7B1-expressing cells required for positioning of B cells, and they also mediated 7α,25-OHC inactivation. CH25H and CYP7B1 were abundant at the follicle perimeter, whereas CH25H expression by follicular dendritic cells was repressed. CYP7B1, CH25H, and HSD3B7 deficiencies each resulted in defective T cell-dependent plasma cell responses. These findings establish that CYP7B1 and HSD3B7, as well as CH25H, have essential roles in controlling oxysterol production in lymphoid tissues, and they suggest that differential enzyme expression in stromal cell subsets establishes 7α,25-OHC gradients required for B cell responses.

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