In the late B cell differentiation stages, miRNAs expression modifications promoting or inhibiting key pathways are only partially defined. We isolated 29 CD19+ human B cell samples at different stages of differentiation: B cells from peripheral blood; naïve, germinal center (GC) and subepithelial (SE) B cells from tonsils. SE cells were further split in activated and resting B cell. The miRNA expression profile of these B cells was assessed by microarray analysis and selected miRNAs were validated by quantitative RT-PCR and in situ hybridization on normal tonsils. The comparison of all samples showed changes in 107 miRNAs in total. Among 48 miRNAs differentially expressed in naïve, GC and SE cells, we identified 8 miRNAs: mir-323, mir-138, mir-9*, mir-211, mir-149, mir-373, mir-135a and mir-184, strictly specific to follicular cells that had never been implicated before in late stages of B cell development. Moreover, we unveiled 34 miRNAs able to discriminate between CD5- activated B cells and resting B cells. The miRNAs profile of CD5- resting B cells showed a higher similarity to naïve CD5+ than CD5- activated B cells. Finally, network analysis on shortest paths connecting gene targets suggested ZEB1 and TP53 as key miRNA targets during the follicular differentiation pathway. These data confirm and extend our knowledge on the miRNAs-related regulatory pathways involved in the late B cell maturation.
Keywords: B cell development; follicle; germinal centre; microRNAs; network analysis.