Wiskott Aldrich syndrome (WAS) is caused by mutations in the WAS gene that encodes for a protein (WASp) involved in cytoskeleton organization in hematopoietic cells. Several distinctive abnormalities of T, B, and natural killer lymphocytes; dendritic cells; and phagocytes have been found in WASp-deficient patients and mice; however, the in vivo consequence of WASp deficiency within individual blood cell lineages has not been definitively evaluated. By conditional gene deletion we have generated mice with selective deficiency ofWASp in the B-cell lineage (B/WcKO mice). We show that this is sufficient to cause a severe reduction of marginal zone B cells and inability to respond to type II T-independent Ags, thereby recapitulating phenotypic features of complete WASp deficiency. In addition, B/WcKO mice showed prominent signs of B-cell dysregulation, as indicated by an increase in serum IgM levels, expansion of germinal center B cells and plasma cells, and elevated autoantibody production. These findings are accompanied by hyperproliferation of WASp-deficient follicular and germinal center B cells in heterozygous B/WcKO mice in vivo and excessive differentiation of WASp-deficient B cells into class-switched plasmablasts in vitro, suggesting that WASp-dependent B cell-intrinsic mechanisms critically contribute to WAS-associated autoimmunity.
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