IgD and IgM are produced by alternative splicing of long primary RNA transcripts from the Ig heavy chain (Igh) locus and serve as the receptors for antigen on naïve mature B lymphocytes. IgM is made selectively in immature B cells, whereas IgD is coexpressed with IgM when the cells mature into follicular or marginal zone B cells, but the transacting factors responsible for this regulated change in splicing have remained elusive. Here, we use a genetic screen in mice to identify ZFP318, a nuclear protein with two U1-type zinc fingers found in RNA-binding proteins and no known role in the immune system, as a critical factor for IgD expression. A point mutation in an evolutionarily conserved lysine-rich domain encoded by the alternatively spliced Zfp318 exon 10 abolished IgD expression on marginal zone B cells, decreased IgD on follicular B cells, and increased IgM, but only slightly decreased the percentage of B cells and did not decrease expression of other maturation markers CD21, CD23, or CD62L. A targeted Zfp318 null allele extinguished IgD expression on mature B cells and increased IgM. Zfp318 mRNA is developmentally regulated in parallel with IgD, with little in pro-B cells, moderate amounts in immature B cells, and high levels selectively in mature follicular B cells. These findings identify ZFP318 as a crucial factor regulating the expression of the two major antibody isotypes on the surface of most mature B cells.
Keywords: ENU mutation; IgHd; IgHm; immunoglobulin isotype.