Pivotal role for αV integrins in sustained Tfh support of the germinal center response for long-lived plasma cell generation

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Mar 5;116(10):4462-4470. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1809329116. Epub 2019 Feb 15.


CD4+ follicular helper T cells (Tfh) are essential for germinal center (GC) reactions in the lymph node that generate high-affinity, long-lived plasma cells (LLPCs). Temporal GC analysis suggests B memory cells (Bmem) are generated early, while LLPCs are generated late in the GC reaction. Distinct roles for Tfh at these temporally different stages are not yet clear. Tfh entry into the GC is highly dynamic and the signals that maintain Tfh within the GC for support of late LLPC production are poorly understood. The GC is marked by inflammation-induced presentation of specific ECM components. To determine if T cell recognition of these ECM components played a role in Tfh support of the GC, we immunized mice with a T cell-restricted deletion of the ECM-binding integrin αVV-CD4 cKO). T cell integrin αV deletion led to a striking defect in the number and size of the GCs following immunization with OVA protein in complete Freund's adjuvant. The GC defect was not due to integrin αV deficiency impeding Tfh generation or follicle entry or the ability of αV-CD4 cKO Tfh to contact and support B cell activation. Instead, integrin αV was essential for T cell-intrinsic accumulation within the GC. Altered Tfh positioning resulted in lower-affinity antibodies and a dramatic loss of LLPCs. Influenza A infection revealed that αV integrin was not required for Tfh support of Bmem but was essential for Tfh support of LLPCs. We highlight an αV integrin-ECM-guided mechanism of Tfh GC accumulation that selectively impacts GC output of LLPCs but not Bmem.

Keywords: ECM; LLPC; T follicular helper; germinal center; integrin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Germinal Center / immunology*
  • Integrin alphaV / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Plasma Cells / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*


  • Integrin alphaV