Germinal centers (GCs) are major sites of clonal B cell expansion and generation of long-lived, high-affinity antibody responses to pathogens. Signaling through TLRs on B cells promotes many aspects of GC B cell responses, including affinity maturation, class switching, and differentiation into long-lived memory and plasma cells. A major challenge for effective vaccination is identifying strategies to specifically promote GC B cell responses. Here, we have identified a mechanism of regulation of GC B cell TLR signaling, mediated by αv integrins and noncanonical autophagy. Using B cell–specific αv-KO mice, we show that loss of αv-mediated TLR regulation increased GC B cell expansion, somatic hypermutation, class switching, and generation of long-lived plasma cells after immunization with virus-like particles (VLPs) or antigens associated with TLR ligand adjuvants. Furthermore, targeting αv-mediated regulation increased the magnitude and breadth of antibody responses to influenza virus vaccination. These data therefore identify a mechanism of regulation of GC B cells that can be targeted to enhance antibody responses to vaccination.
Fiona Raso, Sara Sagadiev, Samuel Du, Emily Gage, Tanvi Arkatkar, Genita Metzler, Lynda M. Stuart, Mark T. Orr, David J. Rawlings, Shaun W. Jackson, Adam Lacy-Hulbert, Mridu Acharya