Development of effective antibody (Ab) responses is critically dependent on the recruitment of nave B cells into secondary lymphoid organs and, upon antigen activation, their coordinated differentiation into germinal center (GC) B cells to memory B cells and Ab-producing plasma cells. Knowing which mechanistic factors control B cell subset transition with the therapeutic goal of Ab-boosting or -attenuating activity, however, is still poorly understood. Exciting new published data from our laboratory highlight striking differences in the glycomic signatures of human nave, GC and memory B cell subsets featured by either i-linear or I-branched poly-N-acetyllactosamines (poly-LacNAcs). Whereas GC B cells express mainly I-branched poly-LacNAcs, nave/memory B cells display principally i-linear poly-LacNAcs, which enable robust binding to immuno- modulator, galectin (Gal)-9. Gal-9-binding causes downstream inhibition of cell proliferation, activation and signaling related to BCR-engagement while, interestingly, evoking a pro-survival activity. Given the selective Gal-9-binding to naive/memory B cells, we speculate that Gal-9 serves as a physiologic ?tuner? of peripheral B cell activation and B cell reactivity. Other key data on the distribution of Gal-9 in ?reactive? lymph node (LN)- like tonsil tissue reveal that, while nave B cells express endogenous Gal-9, Gal-9 expression is strongest on high endothelial venules (HEV). Since HEVs initiate adhesive contact with circulating nave/memory B cells and are densely packed in the cortex adjacent to B cell follicles, HEVs are strategically poised to elicit Gal-9- dependent adhesion/regulation. The spatial, cellular and functional control of Gal-9 on B cells in lymphoid organs is still unknown and a major gap in the field of galectin immunology. Our guiding hypothesis is that Gal- 9 on HEV can bind circulating nave/memory B cells and help recruit them into LNs as well as transmit regulatory signals as B cells traverse the endothelium and enter B cell follicles. In this exploratory proposal, we will examine the function of human endothelial cell (EC)-derived Gal-9 on human nave B cell adhesion and immunoregulation and will assay for B cell homing to peripheral LNs in the presence/absence of Gal-9.
The Specific Aims are: 1.) To study Gal-9-dependent vascular EC ? B cell adhesive interactions and 2.) To analyze immunoregulatory effects of Gal-9 expressed by cytokine-activated human ECs on human nave B cells. We will employ our unique experience and innovative primary human cell models, adhesion assays, mutant mice, gene editing methods to study whether Gal-9 on ECs supports nave B cell adhesion, LN-homing as well as trigger immunoregulatory activity. These exploratory studies directly challenge current dogma that galectins largely function as immunoregulators, offering an alternative role for Gal-9 in facilitating B cell-EC adhesion, LN-homing and in situ peripheral control of B cell activity. Importantly, our findings will reveal novel targets for modulating B cell immunity and provide necessary data for a grant larger in scope.
The efficiency of antibody-immune responses against infections is dependent on the strategic localization and functional prowess of antibody-producing B cells in peripheral immune tissues. We have recently uncovered unique cell surface carbohydrate features on B cells that allow binding to potent immunomodulator proteins found at a high level in these tissues and regulate B cell reactivity. The overall objective of the grant is to understand whether and how these B cell carbohydrate ? immunomodulator protein interactions potentially help B cell recruitment and function in peripheral immune tissues. Importantly, our results will provide a firm foundation of future research larger in scope that will ultimately lead to new therapies designed to either curb or enhance antibody responses.