• Injection of Antibodies against Immunodominant Epitopes Tunes Germinal Centers to Generate Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies.

      Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-10-29)
      Broadly neutralizing antibodies are crucial for the control of many life-threatening viral infections like HIV, influenza, or hepatitis. Their induction is a prime goal in vaccine research. Using computer simulations, we identify strategies to promote the generation of broadly neutralizing antibodies in natural germinal center (GC) reactions. The simulations predict a feedback loop based on antibodies and memory B cells from previous GC reactions that promotes GCs to focus on new epitopes. Memory-derived or injected antibodies specific for immunodominant epitopes control epitope availability, suppress the participation of memory B cells in the GC reaction, and allow for the evolution of other B cells to affinity mature for hidden or rare epitopes. This defines a natural selection mechanism for GC B cells to concentrate on new epitopes rather than refine affinity to already-covered epitopes. This principle can be used for the design and testing of future therapies and vaccination protocols.
    • Permissive selection followed by affinity-based proliferation of GC light zone B cells dictates cell fate and ensures clonal breadth.

      Nakagawa, Rinako; Toboso-Navasa, Amparo; Schips, Marta; Young, George; Bhaw-Rosun, Leena; Llorian-Sopena, Miriam; Chakravarty, Probir; Sesay, Abdul Karim; Kassiotis, George; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; et al. (National Academy of Sciences, 2021-01-12)
      Affinity maturation depends on how efficiently germinal centers (GCs) positively select B cells in the light zone (LZ). Positively selected GC B cells recirculate between LZs and dark zones (DZs) and ultimately differentiate into plasmablasts (PBs) and memory B cells (MBCs). Current understanding of the GC reaction presumes that cMyc-dependent positive selection of LZ B cells is a competitive affinity-dependent process; however, this cannot explain the production of GC-derived lower-affinity MBCs or retention of GC B cells with varied affinities. Here, by combining single-cell/bulk RNA sequencing and flow cytometry, we identified and characterized temporally and functionally distinct positively selected cMyc+ GC B cell subpopulations. cMyc+ LZ B cell subpopulations enriched with either higher- or lower-affinity cells diverged soon after permissive positive selection. The former subpopulation contained PB precursors, whereas the latter comprised less proliferative MBC precursors and future DZ entrants. The overall affinity of future DZ entrants was enhanced in the LZ through preferential proliferation of higher-affinity cells. Concurrently, lower-affinity cells were retained in GCs and protected from apoptosis. These findings redefine positive selection as a dynamic process generating three distinct B cell fates and elucidate how positive selection ensures clonal diversity for broad protection.