The germinal center (GC) is a unique histological structure found in peripheral lymphoid organs. GCs provide an important source of humoral immunity by generating high affinity antibodies against a pathogen. The GC response is tightly regulated during clonal expansion, immunoglobulin modification, and affinity maturation, whereas its deregulation has a detrimental effect on immune function, leading to development of diseases, such as lymphoma and autoimmunity. LRF (lymphoma/leukemia-related factor), encoded by the ZBTB7A gene, is a transcriptional repressor belonging to the POK (POZ and Krüppel)/ZBTB (zing finger and BTB) protein family. LRF was originally identified as a PLZF (promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger) homolog that physically interacts with BCL6 (B-cell lymphoma 6), whose expression is required for GC formation and associated with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Recently, our group demonstrated that LRF plays critical roles in regulating lymphoid lineage commitment, mature B-cell development, and the GC response via distinct mechanisms. Herein, we review POK/ZBTB protein function in lymphoid development, with particular emphasis on the role of LRF in GC B cells.
© 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.