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Immunohorizons. 2019 Oct 7;3(10):447-462. doi: 10.4049/immunohorizons.1800079.

Loss of the FOXP1 Transcription Factor Leads to Deregulation of B Lymphocyte Development and Function at Multiple Stages.

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Department of Molecular Biosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712.
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037; and.
Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.
Department of Molecular Biosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712;


The FOXP1 transcription factor is expressed throughout B cell development until its extinction just prior to terminal differentiation. Foxp1 nulls die of cardiac defects at midgestation, but adult rescue via fetal liver transfer led to a strong pre-B cell block. To circumvent these limitations and to investigate FOXP1 function at later stages of B cell differentiation, we generated and analyzed floxed (F) Foxp1 alleles deleted at pro-B, transitional (T) 1, and mature B cell stages. Mb-1cre-mediated deletion of Foxp1F/F confirmed its requirement for pro-B to pre-B transition. Cd21- and Cd19cre deletion led to significant reduction of germinal center formation and a second block in differentiation at the T2/marginal zone precursor stage. T-dependent and -independent immunization of FOXP1 mutants led to reduction of Ag-specific IgM, whereas responses of class-switched Abs were unimpaired. Yet, unexpectedly, plasmablast and plasma cell numbers were significantly increased by in vitro BCR stimulation of Foxp1F/F splenic follicular B cells but rapidly lost, as they were highly prone to apoptosis. RNA sequencing, gene set enrichment analysis, and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing analyses revealed strong enrichment for signatures related to downregulation of immune responses, apoptosis, and germinal center biology, including direct activation of Bcl6 and downregulation of Aicda/AID, the primary effector of somatic hypermutation, and class-switch recombination. These observations support a role for FOXP1 as a direct transcriptional regulator at key steps underlying B cell development in the mouse.

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