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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.

Abstract:
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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