While apoptosis plays a role in B-cell self-tolerance, its significance in preventing autoimmunity remains unclear. Here, we report that dysregulated B cell apoptosis leads to delayed onset autoimmune phenotype in mice. Our longitudinal studies revealed that mice with B cell-specific deletion of pro-apoptotic Bim (BBimfl/fl) have an expanded B cell compartment with a notable increase in transitional, antibody secreting and recently described double negative (DN) B cells. They develop greater hypergammaglobulinemia than mice lacking Bim in all cells and accumulate several autoantibodies characteristic of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and related Sjögren’s Syndrome (SS) including anti-nuclear, anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB at a level comparable to NODH2h4 autoimmune mouse model. Furthermore, lymphocytes infiltrated the tissues including submandibular glands and formed follicle-like structures populated with B cells, plasma cells and T follicular helper cells indicative of ongoing immune reaction. This autoimmunity was ameliorated upon deletion of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (Btk) gene, which encodes a key B cell signaling protein. These studies suggest that Bim-mediated apoptosis suppresses and B cell tyrosine kinase signaling promotes B cell-mediated autoimmunity.
- B cell tolerance
- Bcl-2-like 11 (Bim)
- Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (Bkt)
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- systemic lupus - erythematosus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy