Several lines of evidence indirectly suggest that antigenic stimulation through the B-cell receptor (BCR) supports chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) development. In addition to self-antigens, a number of microbial antigens have been proposed to contribute to the selection of the immunoglobulins expressed in CLL. How pathogen-specific BCRs drive CLL development remains, however, largely unexplored. Here, we utilized mouse models of CLL pathogenesis to equip B cells with virus-specific BCRs and study the effect of antigen recognition on leukemia growth. Our results show that BCR engagement is absolutely required for CLL development. Unexpectedly, however, neither acute nor chronic exposure to virus-derived antigens influenced leukemia progression. Rather, CLL clones preferentially selected light chains that, when paired with virus-specific heavy chains, conferred B cells the ability to recognize a broad range of autoantigens. Taken together, our results suggest that pathogens may drive CLL pathogenesis by selecting and expanding pathogen-specific B cells that cross-react with one or more self-antigens. © 2017 EMBO.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||EMBO Molecular Medicine|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|