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Front Immunol. 2020 Feb 7;11:98. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.00098. eCollection 2020.

TRIM21 Dysfunction Enhances Aberrant B-Cell Differentiation in Autoimmune Pathogenesis.

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Department of Stem Cell and Immune Regulation, Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine, Yokohama, Japan.
Center for Rheumatic Diseases, Yokohama City University Medical Center, Yokohama, Japan.
Program in Genomics of Differentiation, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD, United States.


TRIM21 is one of the autoantigens that reacts with an anti-SS-A antibody (Ab) present in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and Sjögren's syndrome. TRIM21 is thought to play a role in B-cell proliferation and apoptosis, among other activities. Here we examined a pathological role of TRIM21 in SLE. Trim21-deficient MRL/lpr mice were generated by backcrossing Trim21-deficient C57BL/6 mice to MRL/lpr mice. The levels of serum anti-dsDNA Ab and urine protein at 28 weeks of age were significantly higher in Trim21-deficient MRL/lpr mice as compared to wild-type MRL/lpr mice (p = 0.029 and 0.003, respectively). Resting B cells from Trim21-deficient mice showed significantly higher abilities to differentiate into plasmablasts and to produce Ab as compared with control mice. Due to the reduction of TRIM21-mediated ubiquitylation, IRF5 protein expression was increased in Trim21-deficient MRL/lpr mice (p = 0.021), which correlated with increased plasmablast generation and immunoglobulin production. B cells from SLE patients with anti-TRIM21 Ab seropositivity also showed a significantly higher ability to differentiate into plasmablasts as compared with those without anti-TRIM21 Ab or healthy controls. These results suggest that TRIM21 dysfunction contributes to SLE pathogenesis by promoting B-cell differentiation, for which anti-TRIM21 Ab may be partly responsible.


B cell; TRIM21; immunoglobulin; lupus model mouse; systemic lupus erythematosus

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