High-Throughput Single-Cell Analysis of B Cell Receptor Usage among Autoantigen-Specific Plasma Cells in Celiac Disease

J Immunol. 2017 Jul 15;199(2):782-791. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1700169. Epub 2017 Jun 9.


Characterization of Ag-specific BCR repertoires is essential for understanding disease mechanisms involving humoral immunity. This is optimally done by interrogation of paired H chain V region (VH) and L chain V region (VL) sequences of individual and Ag-specific B cells. By applying single-cell high-throughput sequencing on gut lesion plasma cells (PCs), we have analyzed the transglutaminase 2 (TG2)-specific VH:VL autoantibody repertoire of celiac disease (CD) patients. Autoantibodies against TG2 are a hallmark of CD, and anti-TG2 IgA-producing gut PCs accumulate in patients upon gluten ingestion. Altogether, we analyzed paired VH and VL sequences of 1482 TG2-specific and 1421 non-TG2-specific gut PCs from 10 CD patients. Among TG2-specific PCs, we observed a striking bias in IGHV and IGKV/IGLV gene usage, as well as pairing preferences with a particular presence of the IGHV5-51:IGKV1-5 pair. Selective and biased VH:VL pairing was particularly evident among expanded clones. In general, TG2-specific PCs had lower numbers of mutations both in VH and VL genes than in non-TG2-specific PCs. TG2-specific PCs using IGHV5-51 had particularly few mutations. Importantly, VL segments paired with IGHV5-51 displayed proportionally low mutation numbers, suggesting that the low mutation rate among IGHV5-51 PCs is dictated by the BCR specificity. Finally, we observed selective amino acid changes in VH and VL and striking CDR3 length and J segment selection among TG2-specific IGHV5-51:IGKV1-5 pairs. Hence this study reveals features of a disease- and Ag-specific autoantibody repertoire with preferred VH:VL usage and pairings, limited mutations, clonal dominance, and selection of particular CDR3 sequences.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Autoantigens / chemistry
  • Autoantigens / genetics
  • Autoantigens / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Celiac Disease / immunology*
  • Female
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / blood
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / immunology*
  • Glutens / immunology
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains / genetics
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / genetics
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / immunology
  • Mutation
  • Plasma Cells / immunology*
  • Protein Glutamine gamma Glutamyltransferase 2
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / immunology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / metabolism
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • Transglutaminases / blood
  • Transglutaminases / genetics
  • Transglutaminases / immunology*
  • Young Adult


  • Autoantibodies
  • Autoantigens
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell
  • Glutens
  • Protein Glutamine gamma Glutamyltransferase 2
  • Transglutaminases
  • GTP-Binding Proteins