Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS) is an X-linked immunodeficiency characterized by microthrombocytopenia, eczema, and high susceptibility to developing tumors and autoimmunity. Recent evidence suggests that B cells may be key players in the pathogenesis of autoimmunity in WAS. Here, we assessed whether WAS protein deficiency (WASp deficiency) affects the establishment of B cell tolerance by testing the reactivity of recombinant antibodies isolated from single B cells from 4 WAS patients before and after gene therapy (GT). We found that pre-GT WASp-deficient B cells were hyperreactive to B cell receptor stimulation (BCR stimulation). This hyperreactivity correlated with decreased frequency of autoreactive new emigrant/transitional B cells exiting the BM, indicating that the BCR signaling threshold plays a major role in the regulation of central B cell tolerance. In contrast, mature naive B cells from WAS patients were enriched in self-reactive clones, revealing that peripheral B cell tolerance checkpoint dysfunction is associated with impaired suppressive function of WAS regulatory T cells. The introduction of functional WASp by GT corrected the alterations of both central and peripheral B cell tolerance checkpoints. We conclude that WASp plays an important role in the establishment and maintenance of B cell tolerance in humans and that restoration of WASp by GT is able to restore B cell tolerance in WAS patients.
Francesca Pala, Henner Morbach, Maria Carmina Castiello, Jean-Nicolas Schickel, Samantha Scaramuzza, Nicolas Chamberlain, Barbara Cassani, Salome Glauzy, Neil Romberg, Fabio Candotti, Alessandro Aiuti, Marita Bosticardo, Anna Villa, Eric Meffre