BCL6: master regulator of the germinal center reaction and key oncogene in B cell lymphomagenesis

Adv Immunol. 2010;105:193-210. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2776(10)05007-8.


BCL6 is a transcriptional repressor which has emerged as a critical regulator of germinal centers (GC), the sites where B cells are selected based on the production of antibodies with high affinity for the antigen. BCL6 is also a frequently activated oncogene in the pathogenesis of human B cell lymphomas, most of which derive from the GC B cells. A thorough understanding of the biological role of BCL6 in normal B cell development and lymphomagenesis depends upon the identification of the full set of genes that are targets of its transcriptional regulatory function. Recently, the identification of BCL6 targets has been implemented with the use of genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation and gene expression profiling approaches. A large set of promoters have been shown to be physically bound by BCL6, but only a fraction of them appears to be subjected to transcriptional repression in GC B cells. This set of BCL6 targets points to a number of cellular functions which are likely to be directly controlled by BCL6 during GC development, including activation, survival, DNA-damage response, cell cycle arrest, cytokine-, toll-like receptor-, TGFbeta-, WNT-signaling, and differentiation. Overall, BCL6 is revealing its dual role of "safe-keeper" in preventing centroblasts from responding to signals leading to a premature exit from the GC and of contributor to lymphomagenesis by allowing the instauration of conditions favorable to malignant transformation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Germinal Center / cytology
  • Germinal Center / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-6 / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-6 / physiology*
  • Somatic Hypermutation, Immunoglobulin


  • BCL6 protein, human
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-6