The inhibitory receptor FcγRIIb regulates B-cell functions. Genetic studies have associated Fcgr2b polymorphisms and lupus susceptibility in both humans and murine models, in which B cells express reduced FcγRIIb levels. Furthermore, FcγRIIb absence results in lupus on the appropriate genetic background, and lentiviral-mediated FcγRIIb overexpression prevents disease in the NZM2410 lupus mouse. The NZM2410/NZW allele Fcgr2b is, however, located in-between Sle1a and Sle1b, two potent susceptibility loci, making it difficult to evaluate Fcr2bNZW independent contribution. By using two congenic strains that each carries only Sle1a (B6.Sle1a(15-353)), or Fcr2bNZW in the absence of Sle1a or Sle1b (B6.Sle1(111-148)), we show that the Fcr2bNZW allele does not upregulate its expression on germinal center B cells and plasma cells, as does the C57BL/6 allele on B6.Sle1a(15-353) B cells. Furthermore, in the absence of the flanking Sle1a and Sle1b, Fcr2bNZW does not produce an autoimmune phenotype, but is associated with an increased number of class-switched plasma cells. These results show that while a lower level of FcγRIIb does not by itself induce the development of autoreactive B cells, it has the potential to amplify the contribution of autoreactive B cells induced by other lupus-susceptibility loci by enhancing the production of class-switched plasma cells.
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