B lymphocytes play a key role in type 1 diabetes (T1D) development by serving as a subset of APCs preferentially supporting the expansion of autoreactive pathogenic T cells. As a result of their pathogenic importance, B lymphocyte-targeted therapies have received considerable interest as potential T1D interventions. Unfortunately, the B lymphocyte-directed T1D interventions tested to date failed to halt β cell demise. IgG autoantibodies marking humans at future risk for T1D indicate that B lymphocytes producing them have undergone the affinity-maturation processes of class switch recombination and, possibly, somatic hypermutation. This study found that CRISPR/Cas9-mediated ablation of the activation-induced cytidine deaminase gene required for class switch recombination/somatic hypermutation induction inhibits T1D development in the NOD mouse model. The activation-induced cytidine deaminase protein induces genome-wide DNA breaks that, if not repaired through RAD51-mediated homologous recombination, result in B lymphocyte death. Treatment with the RAD51 inhibitor 4,4'-diisothiocyanatostilbene-2, 2'-disulfonic acid also strongly inhibited T1D development in NOD mice. The genetic and small molecule-targeting approaches expanded CD73+ B lymphocytes that exert regulatory activity suppressing diabetogenic T cell responses. Hence, an initial CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genetic modification approach has identified the AID/RAD51 axis as a target for a potentially clinically translatable pharmacological approach that can block T1D development by converting B lymphocytes to a disease-inhibitory CD73+ regulatory state.
Copyright © 2017 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.