Regulation of age-associated B cells by IRF5 in systemic autoimmunity

Michela Manni, Sanjay Gupta, Edd Ricker, Yurii Chinenov, Sung Ho Park, Man Shi, Tania Pannellini, Rolf Jessberger, Lionel B. Ivashkiv, Alessandra B. Pernis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Age-associated B cells (ABCs) are a subset of B cells dependent on the transcription factor T-bet that accumulate prematurely in autoimmune settings. The pathways that regulate ABCs in autoimmunity are largely unknown. SWAP-70 and DEF6 (also known as IBP or SLAT) are the only two members of the SWEF family, a unique family of Rho GTPase-regulatory proteins that control both cytoskeletal dynamics and the activity of the transcription factor IRF4. Notably, DEF6 is a newly identified human risk variant for systemic lupus erythematosus. Here we found that the lupus syndrome that developed in SWEF-deficient mice was accompanied by the accumulation of ABCs that produced autoantibodies after stimulation. ABCs from SWEF-deficient mice exhibited a distinctive transcriptome and a unique chromatin landscape characterized by enrichment for motifs bound by transcription factors of the IRF and AP-1 families and the transcription factor T-bet. Enhanced ABC formation in SWEF-deficient mice was controlled by the cytokine IL-21 and IRF5, whose variants are strongly associated with lupus. The lack of SWEF proteins led to dysregulated activity of IRF5 in response to stimulation with IL-21. These studies thus elucidate a previously unknown signaling pathway that controls ABCs in autoimmunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-419
Number of pages13
JournalNature Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


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