In chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the B cell receptor (BCR) plays a critical role in disease development and progression, as indicated by the therapeutic efficacy of drugs blocking BCR signaling. However, the mechanism(s) underlying BCR responsiveness are not completely defined. Selective engagement of membrane IgM or IgD on CLL cells, each coexpressed by more than 90% of cases, leads to distinct signaling events. Since both IgM and IgD carry the same antigen-binding domains, the divergent actions of the receptors are attributed to differences in immunoglobulin (Ig) structure or the outcome of signal transduction. We showed that IgM, not IgD, level and organization associated with CLL-cell birth rate and the type and consequences of BCR signaling in humans and mice. The latter IgM-driven effects were abrogated when BCR signaling was inhibited. Collectively, these studies demonstrated a critical, selective role for IgM in BCR signaling and B cell fate decisions, possibly opening new avenues for CLL therapy.
Andrea N. Mazzarello, Eva Gentner-Göbel, Marcus Dühren-von Minden, Tatyana N. Tarasenko, Antonella Nicolò, Gerardo Ferrer, Stefano Vergani, Yun Liu, Davide Bagnara, Kanti R. Rai, Jan A. Burger, Peter J. McGuire, Palash C. Maity, Hassan Jumaa, Nicholas Chiorazzi