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PloS one 2013;8(3):e60139. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060139. Epub 2013 Mar 22.

Rgs13 constrains early B cell responses and limits germinal center sizes.

Hwang, IY; Hwang, KS; Park, C; Harrison, KA; Kehrl, JH

B Cell Molecular Immunology Section, Laboratory of Immunoregulation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.

Germinal centers (GCs) are microanatomic structures that develop in secondary lymphoid organs in response to antigenic stimulation. Within GCs B cells clonally expand and their immunoglobulin genes undergo class switch recombination and somatic hypermutation. Transcriptional profiling has identified a number of genes that are prominently expressed in GC B cells. Among them is Rgs13, which encodes an RGS protein with a dual function. Its canonical function is to accelerate the intrinsic GTPase activity of heterotrimeric G-protein α subunits at the plasma membrane, thereby limiting heterotrimeric G-protein signaling. A unique, non-canonical function of RGS13 occurs following translocation to the nucleus, where it represses CREB transcriptional activity. The functional role of RGS13 in GC B cells is unknown. To create a surrogate marker for Rgs13 expression and a loss of function mutation, we inserted a GFP coding region into the Rgs13 genomic locus. Following immunization GFP expression rapidly increased in activated B cells, persisted in GC B cells, but declined in newly generated memory B and plasma cells. Intravital microscopy of the inguinal lymph node (LN) of immunized mice revealed the rapid appearance of GFP(+) cells at LN interfollicular regions and along the T/B cell borders, and eventually within GCs. Analysis of WT, knock-in, and mixed chimeric mice indicated that RGS13 constrains extra-follicular plasma cell generation, GC size, and GC B cell numbers. Analysis of select cell cycle and GC specific genes disclosed an aberrant gene expression profile in the Rgs13 deficient GC B cells. These results indicate that RGS13, likely acting at cell membranes and in nuclei, helps coordinate key decision points during the expansion and differentiation of naive B cells.

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