Visualization of RelB expression and activation at the single-cell level during dendritic cell maturation in Relb-Venus knock-in mice

J Biochem. 2015 Dec;158(6):485-95. doi: 10.1093/jb/mvv064. Epub 2015 Jun 26.


RelB is activated by the non-canonical NF-κB pathway, which is crucial for immunity by establishing lymphoid organogenesis and B-cell and dendritic cell (DC) maturation. To elucidate the mechanism of the RelB-mediated immune cell maturation, a precise understanding of the relationship between cell maturation and RelB expression and activation at the single-cell level is required. Therefore, we generated knock-in mice expressing a fusion protein between RelB and fluorescent protein (RelB-Venus) from the Relb locus. The Relb(Venus/Venus) mice developed without any abnormalities observed in the Relb(-/-) mice, allowing us to monitor RelB-Venus expression and nuclear localization as RelB expression and activation. Relb(Venus/Venus) DC analyses revealed that DCs consist of RelB(-), RelB(low) and RelB(high) populations. The RelB(high) population, which included mature DCs with projections, displayed RelB nuclear localization, whereas RelB in the RelB(low) population was in the cytoplasm. Although both the RelB(low) and RelB(-) populations barely showed projections, MHC II and co-stimulatory molecule expression were higher in the RelB(low) than in the RelB(-) splenic conventional DCs. Taken together, our results identify the RelB(low) population as a possible novel intermediate maturation stage of cDCs and the Relb(Venus/Venus) mice as a useful tool to analyse the dynamic regulation of the non-canonical NF-κB pathway.

Keywords: NF-κB; RelB; dendritic cell; single cell; venus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • B7-2 Antigen / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques
  • Genes, MHC Class II
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Signal Transduction
  • Single-Cell Analysis*
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / cytology
  • Transcription Factor RelB / genetics
  • Transcription Factor RelB / metabolism*


  • B7-2 Antigen
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Relb protein, mouse
  • yellow fluorescent protein, Bacteria
  • Transcription Factor RelB