The B cell receptors (BCRs) for antigen express variable (V) regions that are enormously diverse, thus serving as markers on individual B cells. V region-derived idiotypic (Id) peptides can be displayed as pId:MHCII complexes on B cells for recognition by CD4+ T cells. It is not known if naive B cells spontaneously display pId:MHCII in vivo or if BCR ligation is required for expression, thereby enabling collaboration between Id+ B cells and Id-specific T cells. Here, using a mouse model, we show that naive B cells do not express readily detectable levels of pId:MHCII. However, BCR ligation by Ag dramatically increases physical display of pId:MHCII, leading to activation of Id-specific CD4+ T cells, extrafollicular T-B cell collaboration and some germinal center formation, and production of Id+ IgG. Besides having implications for immune regulation, the results may explain how persistent activation of self-reactive B cells induces the development of autoimmune diseases and B cell lymphomas.
Keywords: BCR ligation by antigen; M315-like BCR; V-gene modified mouse model; idiotype-driven T–B collaboration; idiotypic peptide: MHCII.
Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.