The Ability of CD40L, but not LPS, to Induce Germline Immunoglobulin γ1 Transcripts Is Explained by Differential Induction of NF-κB/Rel Proteins

Publication Date

January 1998

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Program in Immunology & Virology


Antigens, CD40; Immunoglobulin gamma-Chains; Germ Cells; Academic Dissertations; Dissertations, UMMS


Proteins, which are T cell-dependent antigens, preferentially induce antibodies of the IgG1 class in mouse, whereas LPS, which is a T-independent antigen, preferentially induces IgG3 and IgG2b. Interaction between CD40 on B cells and CD40 ligand (CD40L) on T cells has been shown to mediate T cell contact help for B cell proliferation, differentiation and immunoglobulin isotype switching. In addition, it has been shown that membranes from activated T cells induce germline γ1 transcripts, and that CD40 signaling induces germline γ1 transcripts. These results indicate that T cell contact help mediated by CD40 ligand (CD40L)-CD40 interaction may contribute to this preferential IgG1 isotype selection in response to T-dependent antigens by inducing transcription of germline Ig γ1 transcripts.

Here we show that signaling via CD40 increases expression of a transiently transfected luciferase reporter plasmid driven by the germline γ1 promoter in M12.4.1 B lymphoma cells. By linker scanning mutation analysis of the promoter, we have identified a CD40 responsive region (CD40RR) which is able to confer inducibility by CD40L to a minimal c-fos promoter. The CD40RR contains three NF-кB-binding sites, each of which is required for maximal induction of the γ1 promoter activity by CD40L. Binding of the NF-кB/Re1 proteins p50, Re1A, c-Re1 and Re1B to the CD40RR can be induced by CD40 signaling in M12.4.1 cells or in splenic B cells. Co-transfection of expression plasmids for p50 together with Re1A or Re1B, but not p50 alone or p50 and c-Re1, transactivates the CD40RR in transient transfection assays in M12.4.1 cells. These data demonstrate NFкB/Re1 proteins activated by CD40 engagement play an important role in regulation of the germline γ1 promoter. Further support for this conclusion is provided by the finding that treatment of splenic B cells with NF-кB inhibitors prevents induction of germline γ1 transcripts by CD40L.

Although LPS also induces NF-кB activation, it poorly induces germline γ1 promoter activity in M12.4.1 cells and it also poorly induces germline γ1 transcripts in splenic B cells and in the mouse B cell line, 1B4.B6. Western blot analyses show that LPS predominantly activates p50 and c-Re1, whereas CD40L induces all NF-кB/Re1 proteins (Re1A, Re1B, c-Re1 and p50). Likewise, in nuclear extracts from LPS-treated cells, p50/cRe1 and p50/p50 dimers are the major NF-кB/Re1 proteins which bind to the promoter for germline γ1 transcripts in electrophoretic mobility shift assays, whereas in nuclear extracts from CD40L-treated cells, p50/Re1A and p50/Re1B dimers are the major complexes. Reporter gene assay by over expressing NF-кB/Re1 fusion proteins indicates that p50/Re1A and p50/Re1B dimers, but not p50/c-Re1 or p50/p50 dimer, can transactivate the germline γ1 promoter. Despite their inability to activate the promoter, p50/c-Re1 and p50/p50 can bind to the promoter and suppress the transactivation activity of p50/Re1A and p50/Re1B. Therefore, the effect of NF-кB activation on the germline γ1 promoter depends on the Relative amounts of transactivating and non-trans activating NF-кB/Re1 dimers. The inability of LPS to induce germline γ1 transcripts can be explained by induction of non-transactivating NF-кB/Re1 dimers and the ability of CD40L to activate the promoter by a greater induction of Re1A and Re1B Re1ative to c-Re1.


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