Epigenetic gene regulation in plasma cells

Immunol Rev. 2021 Sep;303(1):8-22. doi: 10.1111/imr.12975. Epub 2021 May 19.


Humoral immunity provides protection from pathogenic infection and is mediated by antibodies following the differentiation of naive B cells (nBs) to antibody-secreting cells (ASCs). This process requires substantial epigenetic and transcriptional rewiring to ultimately repress the nB program and replace it with one conducive to ASC physiology and function. Notably, these reprogramming events occur within the framework of cell division. Efforts to understand the relationship of cell division with reprogramming and ASC differentiation in vivo have uncovered the timing and scope of reprogramming, as well as key factors that influence these events. Herein, we discuss the unique physiology of ASC and how nBs undergo epigenetic and genome architectural reorganization to acquire the necessary functions to support antibody production. We also discuss the stage-wise manner in which reprogramming occurs across cell divisions and how key molecular determinants can influence B cell fate outcomes.

Keywords: B cell differentiation; cell division; epigenetics; heme; plasma cells; transcriptomics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibody-Producing Cells*
  • B-Lymphocytes
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Plasma Cells*