Positive and Negative Selection of Natural Autoreactive B Cells

  • Richard R. HardyEmail author
  • Kyoko Hayakawa
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 750)


Naturally occurring antibodies (NAbs) produced by CD5+ B-1 B cells include those with specificity for thymocytes (anti-thymocyte autoantibody, ATA). Here we describe a prototypic example, encoded by an unmutated immunoglobulin μ/κ heavy chain/light chain. Studies with ATA-μ (“heavy chain only”) transgenic mice demonstrated a critical requirement for self-antigen in the accumulation of B cells with this specificity and for the production of high levels of serum ATA NAb. Furthermore, analysis of B-cell development in ATA-μκ (“heavy and light chain”) transgenic mice revealed two distinct responses by B cells to expression of this B-cell receptor (BCR). (1) Most B cells developing from bone marrow of adult mice were blocked at an immature stage in spleen and only escaped apoptosis by editing their BCR to eliminate the ATA specificity. (2) Some B cells differentiated to antibody-forming cells without altering their specificity, produced high levels of serum ATA, and many ATA-secreting plasma cells were observed in spleen. Finally, examination of B-cell development and ATA NAb production in ATA-μκ transgenic mice with levels of Thy-1 autoantigen varying from very low to above physiologic reveals a clear relationship between BCR crosslinking by antigen and B-cell fate. Low levels of Thy-1 autoantigen resulted in diversion of ATA B cells into the marginal zone B-cell compartment, presumably because of reduced BCR signaling. Thus, our studies demonstrate a key positive selection step in the development of NAb-producing B cells and show that most of these cells in adult mice bearing such specificities fail to reach a mature stage. Importantly, because these specificities are isolated from B-1 B cells and, when expressed as transgenes, guide development into the B-1 or marginal zone B-cell pool, we identify these B cells as a major source of natural autoantibodies in mice.


Marginal Zone Receptor Editing Natural Autoantibody Specific Light Chain Chain Transgenic Mouse 
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Copyright information

© Landes Bioscience and Springer Science+Business Media 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fox Chase Cancer CenterPhiladelphiaUSA

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