Germinal centers (GCs) are major sites of clonal B cell expansion and generation of long-lived, high-affinity antibody responses to pathogens. Signaling through toll-like receptors(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 non-canonical autophagy. Using B cell-specific αv-knockout 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, which 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 Rawlings, Shaun Jackson, Adam Lacy-Hulbert, Mridu Acharya