Despite stringent regulation of disease-associated autoantibodies, a substantial proportion of circulating Abs in sera of healthy individuals exhibit self-reactivity. These Abs are referred to as naturally occurring or natural autoantibodies (NAAs). To understand the origin and function of NAAs, we have generated a new site-directed transgenic mouse model in which a prerearranged VDJ gene coding for the H chain of a typical polyreactive NAA, ppc1-5, is inserted into the IgH locus. This H chain, when combined with its original L chain, the λ1 L chain, yields a NAA that characteristically binds a variety of self and non-self Ags including ssDNA, actin, ubiquitin, and nitrophenyl phosphocholine. Despite their autoreactivity, B cells expressing ppc1-5H/λ1 NAA are not negatively selected, but rather are overrepresented in the transgenic mice. The shift toward λ1 expression mainly occurs during the transition of immature to mature B cells in the spleen, suggesting a BCR selection process. The ppc1-5H/λ1 B cells exhibit a phenotype that is different from those of the known mature B cell populations, and they are located predominantly in the lymphoid follicles of the spleen and the lymph nodes. These B cells are functionally active, producing high levels of Abs in vivo and responding well to BCR stimulation in vitro. The findings indicate that the ppc1-5/λ1 natural autoantibodies originate from a distinct B cell subset that may be positively selected by virtue of its poly/autoreactivity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy