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JCI Insight. 2017 Apr 20;2(8). pii: 92943. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.92943. [Epub ahead of print]

T-bet+ B cells are induced by human viral infections and dominate the HIV gp140 response.

Abstract

Humoral immunity is critical for viral control, but the identity and mechanisms regulating human antiviral B cells are unclear. Here, we characterized human B cells expressing T-bet and analyzed their dynamics during viral infections. T-bet+ B cells demonstrated an activated phenotype, a distinct transcriptional profile, and were enriched for expression of the antiviral immunoglobulin isotypes IgG1 and IgG3. T-bet+ B cells expanded following yellow fever virus and vaccinia virus vaccinations and also during early acute HIV infection. Viremic HIV-infected individuals maintained a large T-bet+ B cell population during chronic infection that was associated with increased serum and cell-associated IgG1 and IgG3 expression. The HIV gp140-specific B cell response was dominated by T-bet-expressing memory B cells, and we observed a concomitant biasing of gp140-specific serum immunoglobulin to the IgG1 isotype. These findings suggest that T-bet induction promotes antiviral immunoglobulin isotype switching and development of a distinct T-bet+ B cell subset that is maintained by viremia and coordinates the HIV Env-specific humoral response.

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