Autoreactive B cells are regulated in the BM during development through mechanisms, including editing of the B cell receptor (BCR), clonal deletion, and anergy. Peripheral B cell tolerance is also important for protection from autoimmune damage, although the mechanisms are less well defined. Here we demonstrated, using a mouse model of SLE-like serology, that during an autoimmune response, RAG was reinduced in antigen-activated early memory or preplasma B cells. Expression of RAG was specific to antigen-reactive B cells, required the function of the IL-7 receptor (IL-7R), and contributed to maintenance of humoral tolerance. We also showed that soluble antigen could diminish a non-autoreactive antibody response through induction of BCR revision. These data suggest that tolerance induction operates in B cells at a postactivation checkpoint and that BCR revision helps regulate autoreactivity generated during an ongoing immune response.
Ying-Hua Wang, Betty Diamond