Opposing Roles for the Related ETS-Family Transcription Factors Spi-B and Spi-C in Regulating B Cell Differentiation and Function

Front Immunol. 2020 May 8;11:841. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.00841. eCollection 2020.


Generation of specific antibodies during an immune response to infection or vaccination depends on the ability to rapidly and accurately select clones of antibody-secreting B lymphocytes for expansion. Antigen-specific B cell clones undergo the cell fate decision to differentiate into antibody-secreting plasma cells, memory B cells, or germinal center B cells. The E26-transformation-specific (ETS) transcription factors Spi-B and Spi-C are important regulators of B cell development and function. Spi-B is expressed throughout B cell development and is downregulated upon plasma cell differentiation. Spi-C is highly related to Spi-B and has similar DNA-binding specificity. Heterozygosity for Spic rescues B cell development and B cell proliferation defects observed in Spi-B knockout mice. In this study, we show that heterozygosity for Spic rescued defective IgG1 secondary antibody responses in Spib -/- mice. Plasma cell differentiation was accelerated in Spib -/- B cells. Gene expression, ChIP-seq, and reporter gene analysis showed that Spi-B and Spi-C differentially regulated Bach2, encoding a key regulator of plasma cell and memory B cell differentiation. These results suggest that Spi-B and Spi-C oppose the function of one another to regulate B cell differentiation and function.

Keywords: Bach2; Spi-B; Spi-C; antibody; plasma cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets / metabolism
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets
  • Spi-B protein, mouse
  • Spic protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors