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Developmental Immunology
Volume 8 (2001), Issue 3-4, Pages 223-234

Enforced Expression of Bcl-2 Selectively Perturbs Negative Selection of Dual Reactive Antibodies

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The Kimmel Cancer Institute, Thomas Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA

Copyright © 2001 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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.