Altered BCR and TLR signals promote enhanced positive selection of autoreactive transitional B cells in Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


The Journal of experimental medicine (2015)


Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS) is an X-linked immunodeficiency disorder frequently associated with systemic autoimmunity, including autoantibody-mediated cytopenias. WAS protein (WASp)-deficient B cells have increased B cell receptor (BCR) and Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling, suggesting that these pathways might impact establishment of the mature, naive BCR repertoire. To directly investigate this possibility, we evaluated naive B cell specificity and composition in WASp-deficient mice and WAS subjects (n = 12). High-throughput sequencing and single-cell cloning analysis of the BCR repertoire revealed altered heavy chain usage and enrichment for low-affinity self-reactive specificities in murine marginal zone and human naive B cells. Although negative selection mechanisms including deletion, anergy, and receptor editing were relatively unperturbed, WASp-deficient transitional B cells showed enhanced proliferation in vivo mediated by antigen- and Myd88-dependent signals. Finally, using both BCR sequencing and cell surface analysis with a monoclonal antibody recognizing an intrinsically autoreactive heavy chain, we show enrichment in self-reactive cells specifically at the transitional to naive mature B cell stage in WAS subjects. Our combined data support a model wherein modest alterations in B cell-intrinsic, BCR, and TLR signals in WAS, and likely other autoimmune disorders, are sufficient to alter B cell tolerance via positive selection of self-reactive transitional B cells.