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Nature. 2015 Jan 8;517(7533):214-8. doi: 10.1038/nature13803. Epub 2014 Oct 15.

T-B-cell entanglement and ICOSL-driven feed-forward regulation of germinal centre reaction.

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Tsinghua-Peking Center for Life Sciences, Laboratory of Dynamic Immunobiology, School of Medicine, Tsinghua University, 100084 Beijing, China.
School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University, 100084 Beijing, China.


The germinal centre (GC) reaction supports affinity-based B-cell competition and generates high-affinity bone-marrow plasma cells (BMPCs). How follicular T-helper (TFH) cells regulate GC selection is not clear. Using competitive mixed chimaera, we show here that, beyond the role in promoting TFH development, ICOSL (inducible T-cell co-stimulator ligand, also known as ICOSLG) is important for individual B cells to competitively participate in the GC reaction and to develop into BMPCs. Using intravital imaging aided by a calcium reporter, we further show that ICOSL promotes an 'entangled' mode of TFH-B-cell interactions, characterized by brief but extensive surface engagement, productive T-cell calcium spikes, and B-cell acquisition of CD40 signals. Reiterated entanglement promotes outer-zone co-localization of outcompeting GC B cells together with TFH cells, affording the former increased access to T-cell help. ICOSL on GC B cells is upregulated by CD40 signals. Such an intercellular positive feedback between contact-dependent help and ICOSL-controlled entanglement promotes positive selection and BMPC development, as evidenced by observations that higher-affinity B-cell receptor variants are enriched in the ICOSL(high) fraction, that numerically disadvantaged ICOSL-deficient GC B cells or BMPCs exhibit strong affinity compensation in competitive chimaera, and that when GC competition proceeds without ICOSL, selection of high-affinity variants in otherwise normal GC reactions is impaired. By demonstrating entanglement as the basic form of GC TFH-B-cell interactions, identifying ICOSL as a molecular linkage between T-B interactional dynamics and positive selection for high-affinity BMPC formation, our study reveals a pathway by which TFH cells control the quality of long-lived humoral immunity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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