Ig diversification occurs in peripheral lymphoid organs after establishment of central tolerance during B cell development. In germinal centers (GCs), somatic hypermutation of Ig genes occurs in dark zones, followed by selection of mutated clones in light zones (LZs). This generates high-affinity Ig receptors to pathogens but can also produce autoreactive Ig receptors, which are removed by selection mechanisms that are incompletely understood. The ubiquitin ligase Itch prevents the emergence of autoimmune disease and autoantibodies in humans and mice, and patients lacking Itch develop potentially fatal autoimmune diseases; yet, how Itch regulates GC B cells is not well understood. By studying Itch-deficient mice, we have recently shown that Itch directly limits the magnitude of GC responses. Proteomic profiling of GC B cells uncovered that Itch-deficient cells exhibit high mTORC1 and Myc activity, hallmarks of positive selection. Bone marrow chimera and adoptive transfer experiments revealed that B cell Itch restricts noncycling LZ cells. These results support, to our knowledge, a novel role for Itch in skewing selection of GC B cells to restrict LZ accumulation and shape GC-derived humoral immunity. Determining how B cells integrate cues within GCs to navigate through LZs and dark zones will aid in understanding how autoreactive clones emerge from GCs in people with autoimmune disease.

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