Innate retroviral restriction by Apobec3 promotes antibody affinity maturation in vivo

J Immunol. 2010 Jul 15;185(2):1114-23. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1001143. Epub 2010 Jun 21.


Apobec3/Rfv3 is an innate immune factor that promotes the neutralizing Ab response against Friend retrovirus (FV) in infected mice. Based on its evolutionary relationship to activation-induced deaminase, Apobec3 might directly influence Ab class switching and affinity maturation independently of viral infection. Alternatively, the antiviral activity of Apobec3 may indirectly influence neutralizing Ab responses by reducing early FV-induced pathology in critical immune compartments. To distinguish between these possibilities, we immunized wild-type and Apobec3-deficient C57BL/6 (B6) mice with (4-hydroxy-3-nitrophenyl) acetyl (NP) hapten and evaluated the binding affinity of the resultant NP-specific Abs. These studies revealed similar affinity maturation of NP-specific IgG1 Abs between wild-type and Apobec3-deficient mice in the absence of FV infection. In contrast, hapten-specific Ab affinity maturation was significantly compromised in Apobec3-deficient mice infected with FV. In highly susceptible (B6 x A.BY)F(1) mice, the B6 Apobec3 gene protected multiple cell types in the bone marrow and spleen from acute FV infection, including erythroid, B, T, and myeloid cells. In addition, B6 Apobec3 deficiency was associated with elevated Ig levels, but decreased induction of splenic germinal center B cells and plasmablasts during acute FV infection. These data suggest that Apobec3 indirectly influences FV-specific neutralizing Ab responses by reducing virus-induced immune dysfunction. These findings raise the possibility that enabling Apobec3 activity during acute infection with human pathogenic retroviruses, such as HIV-1, may similarly facilitate stronger virus-specific neutralizing Ab responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Antibody Affinity / immunology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / immunology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Cytidine Deaminase / genetics
  • Cytidine Deaminase / immunology*
  • Cytidine Deaminase / metabolism
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Friend murine leukemia virus / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Leukemia, Experimental / genetics
  • Leukemia, Experimental / immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nitrophenols / administration & dosage
  • Nitrophenols / immunology
  • Phenylacetates / administration & dosage
  • Phenylacetates / immunology
  • Retroviridae Infections / genetics
  • Retroviridae Infections / immunology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Spleen / metabolism
  • Spleen / pathology
  • Tumor Virus Infections / genetics
  • Tumor Virus Infections / immunology


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Nitrophenols
  • Phenylacetates
  • 4-hydroxy-5-nitrophenyl acetic acid
  • Apobec3 protein, mouse
  • Cytidine Deaminase