Upon antigen recognition within peripheral lymphoid organs, B cells interact with T cells and other immune cells to transiently form morphological structures called germinal centers (GCs), which are required for B cell clonal expansion, immunoglobulin class switching, and affinity maturation. This process, known as the GC response, is an energetically demanding process that requires the metabolic reprogramming of B cells. We showed that the Ras-related guanosine triphosphate hydrolase (GTPase) R-Ras2 (also known as TC21) plays an essential, nonredundant, and B cell-intrinsic role in the GC response. Both the conversion of B cells into GC B cells and their expansion were impaired in mice lacking R-Ras2, but not in those lacking a highly related R-Ras subfamily member or both the classic H-Ras and N-Ras GTPases. In the absence of R-Ras2, activated B cells did not exhibit increased oxidative phosphorylation or aerobic glycolysis. We showed that R-Ras2 was an effector of both the B cell receptor (BCR) and CD40 and that, in its absence, B cells exhibited impaired activation of the PI3K-Akt-mTORC1 pathway, reduced mitochondrial DNA replication, and decreased expression of genes involved in glucose metabolism. Because most human B cell lymphomas originate from GC B cells or B cells that have undergone the GC response, our data suggest that R-Ras2 may also regulate metabolism in B cell malignancies.
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