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Scripps Research scientists show how memory B cells stay 'in class' to fight different infections
Date:5/7/2012

ory cells, they become dysfunctional and die," Wang said.

The finding that T-bet has this all-important, ongoing function in IgG2a memory cells suggested that other proteins play analogous roles in other classes of memory B cell. Wang therefore turned to memory B cells of the IgA class, and, with a similar set of experiments, showed that these memory B cells depend on the transcription factor RORα. "It essentially does for IgA memory cells what T-bet does for IgG2a memory cells," said Wang.

Implications for Science and Medicine

Wang and McHeyzer-Williams and their colleagues are now searching for the proteins that keep other memory B cells healthy and in their classes. But already the work has clarified how memory B cells work. "Until now we haven't really had a good conceptual framework for the development and maintenance of these cells," McHeyzer-Williams said.

The findings clearly also have implications for medicine. By supplying a particular class-enforcement protein at the same time that it exposes B cells to microbial proteins, a vaccine could induce a long-term immunity that is heavily weighted towards a desired antibody class. "If you're designing a vaccine for certain types of virus, for example, you would like to have lots of IgG2a and IgA memory cells," said McHeyzer-Williams. "So the goal would be to design a chemical adjuvant for the vaccine that drives B cells into those classes."

Similarly, therapies that knock down class-enforcement signals such as T-bet could usefully reduce or eliminate memory B cells in certain classes. "Some autoimmune, allergic and lymphoma conditions are driven by B cells of a particular class, for example IgE cells in allergies," said McHeyzer-Williams. "Being able to target just that class of B cell would be an obvious advantage over existing therapies, such as steroids, that knock down large parts of the immune system."


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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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