Enforced Expression of Bcl-2 Selectively Perturbs Negative Selection of Dual Reactive Antibodies
We investigated the role of apoptosis in the development of B cell memory by analyzing the (p-azophenylarsonate) Ars response in a line of A strain mice in which expression of human Bcl-2 was enforced in the B cell compartment. Previous studies of the Ars immune response in these A. Bcl-2 mice, demonstrated that a large percentage of the antibodies expressed by the Ars induced memory B cell compartment had accumulated point mutations via somatic hypermutation that increased their affinity for both Ars and the autoantigen DNA (“dual reactive” antibodies). This was in sharp contrast to normal A strain mice which displayed no dual reactive B cells in their Ars induced memory B cell compartment. These data suggested that interference with apoptotic pathways regulated by Bcl-2 allows developing memory B cells that have acquired autoreactivity to bypass a peripheral tolerance checkpoint. Further studies of these mice, reported here, demonstrate that enforced expression of Bcl-2 does not alter serum antibody affinity maturation nor positive selection of B cells expressing somatically mutated antibody with an increased affinity for Ars. Moreover, the somatic hypermutation process was unaffected in A. Bcl-2 mice. Thus, enforced expression of Bcl-2 in A. Bcl-2 mice appears to selectively alter a negative selection process that operates during memory B cell differentiation.