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PLoS One. 2014 Sep 12;9(9):e107505. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107505. eCollection 2014.

PP4 is essential for germinal center formation and class switch recombination in mice.

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Immunology Research Center, National Health Research Institutes, Zhunan, Miaoli County, Taiwan.
National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, National Health Research Institutes, Zhunan, Miaoli County, Taiwan.
Immunology Research Center, National Health Research Institutes, Zhunan, Miaoli County, Taiwan; Department of Pathology & Immunology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America.


PP4 is a serine/threonine phosphatase required for immunoglobulin (Ig) VDJ recombination and pro-B/pre-B cell development in mice. To elucidate the role of PP4 in mature B cells, we ablated the catalytic subunit of murine PP4 in vivo utilizing the CD23 promoter and cre-loxP recombination and generated CD23(cre)PP4(F/F) mice. The development of follicular and marginal zone B cells was unaffected in these mutants, but the proliferation of mature PP4-deficient B cells stimulated by in vitro treatment with either anti-IgM antibody (Ab) or LPS was partially impaired. Interestingly, the induction of CD80 and CD86 expression on these stimulated B cells was normal. Basal levels of serum Igs of all isotypes were strongly reduced in CD23(cre)PP4(F/F) mice, and their B cells showed a reduced efficiency of class switch recombination (CSR) in vitro upon stimulation by LPS or LPS plus IL-4. When CD23(cre)PP4(F/F) mice were challenged with either the T cell-dependent antigen TNP-KLH or the T cell-independent antigen TNP-Ficoll, or by H1N1 virus infection, the mutant animals failed to form germinal centers (GCs) in the spleen and the draining mediastinal lymph nodes, and did not efficiently mount antigen-specific humoral responses. In the resting state, PP4-deficient B cells exhibited pre-existing DNA fragmentation. Upon stimulation by DNA-damaging drug etoposide in vitro, mutant B cells showed increased cleavage of caspase 3. In addition, the mutant B cells displayed impaired CD40-mediated MAPK activation, abnormal IgM-mediated NF-κB activation, and reduced S phase entry upon IgM/CD40-stimulation. Taken together, our results establish a novel role for PP4 in CSR, and reveal crucial functions for PP4 in the maintenance of genomic stability, GC formation, and B cell-mediated immune responses.

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