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Paper Chase

Induction of tolerance in arthritogenic B cells with receptors of differing affinity for self-antigen.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.. Mar 7, 2006;103(10):3734-9.
Huang H, Kearney JF, Grusby MJ, Benoist C, Mathis D.

Section on Immunology and Immunogenetics, Joslin Diabetes Center, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Multiple mechanisms of tolerance induction limit autoimmunity, but their relative contribution for lymphocytes recognizing self-antigens of differing availability is incompletely understood. The mechanisms applied to arthritogenic B cells expressing antigen-specific B cell receptors (BCRs) with different affinities for glucose-6-phosphate isomerase (GPI) were examined in the corresponding Ig gene knock-in mice. This ubiquitously expressed and blood-borne enzyme is the target autoantigen in the K/BxN model of inflammatory arthritis and perhaps in some humans with arthritis. Negative selection of B cells expressing high-affinity anti-GPI specificities, whose surface receptors were occupied by GPI, operated mainly at the transitional B cell stages in the spleen, preventing their final differentiation and entry into follicular areas. Receptor editing contributed to the purging of cells displaying anti-GPI BCRs, and significant numbers of autoreactive cells escaped through expression of an additional Ig light (L) chain, accumulating gradually in lymphoid organs. In contrast, low-affinity anti-GPI B cells, whose surface receptors did not carry GPI, matured normally. The "escaped" dual-L-chain cells and the "ignored" low-affinity cells are the likely precursors of cells that produce pathogenic autoantibodies once T cell help is provided. These studies portray, in a single system, the range of tolerance mechanisms applied to potentially pathogenic B cells, and serve as a base for dissecting where T cell help intervenes and where therapeutic agents impinge.