B cell activation is regulated by the stimulatory or inhibitory co-receptors of B cell receptors (BCRs). Here, we investigated the signaling mechanism of Fc receptor-like 1 (FcRL1), a newly identified BCR co-receptor. FcRL1 was passively recruited into B cell immunological synapses upon BCR engagement in the absence of FcRL1 cross-linking, suggesting that FcRL1 may intrinsically regulate B cell activation and function. BCR cross-linking alone led to the phosphorylation of the intracellular Y281ENV motif of FcRL1 to provide a docking site for c-Abl, an SH2 domain-containing kinase. The FcRL1 and c-Abl signaling module, in turn, potently augmented B cell activation and proliferation. FcRL1-deficient mice exhibited markedly impaired formation of extrafollicular plasmablasts and germinal centers, along with decreased antibody production upon antigen stimulation. These findings reveal a critical BCR signal-enhancing function of FcRL1 through its intrinsic recruitment to B cell immunological synapses and subsequent recruitment of c-Abl upon BCR cross-linking.
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