The Transcription Factor T-bet in the Control of Germinal Centre Dynamics in Malaria
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2021-09-09.
© 2019 Ann Ly
With reductions in the global malaria burden stalled, this preventable and curable infectious disease caused by the Plasmodium parasites, remains a public health challenge that affects the world’s most vulnerable populations. Naturally acquired immunity plays an important role in protection from disease; however, there is long-standing evidence that it requires years of repeated infections to develop. The reasons for this are largely elusive, but immuno-epidemiological studies support that protective antibodies and memory B cells are short-lived and inefficiently generated to infection. Moreover, recurrent infections are associated with an expansion of atypical memory B cells that may have impaired function. Histological analyses revealed significant disorganisation of the spleen in severe malaria patients, which led to the concept that acute infection may undermine the acquisition of B cell memory. T helper 1 pro-inflammatory responses induced by blood-stage infection were subsequently shown to compromise the induction of humoral immunity by inhibiting effective T follicular helper (Tfh) cell differentiation and germinal centre (GC) reactions. The relative contribution of the T helper 1 lineage-defining transcription factor, T-bet, in CD4+ T cells and B cells to GC development in malaria, was investigated using the P. berghei ANKA blood-stage infection model. T-bet expression in CD4+ T cells limited the differentiation of Tfh cells that supported GC development in the spleen. This led to an impaired generation of antibody-secreting cells and memory B cells following infection. In addition to its impact on CD4+ T cells, T-bet was highly up-regulated in GC B cells elicited by infection, and limited the magnitude of the GC response in a B cell-intrinsic manner. Strikingly, T-bet expression in the B cell compartment modulated the transcriptional landscape of GC B cells to promote the GC dark zone program but constrained light zone development. In particular, T-bet suppressed expression of the regulator of G-protein signaling 13, which down-regulates the responsiveness of B cells to migrate towards the chemokine CXCL12, for effective dark and light zone transition within the GC. T-bet-driven dark zone skewing of the GC reaction following malaria infection associated with enhanced somatic hypermutation of GC B cells, and improved the avidity of antibodies against the parasite. Therefore, this thesis supports a model in which malaria-elicited inflammation mediated by T-bet, exquisitely modulates the dynamics of the GC reaction, promoting GC B cell dark zone polarization that promotes the generation of B cells with increased affinity for antigen, consequently enhancing affinity maturation. This provides novel insight into the cellular mechanisms that underlie the development of humoral immune responses in malaria, and has implications for other chronic infections and autoimmune disease that are characterised by a similarly potent inflammatory milieu.
Keywordsmalaria; immunology; B cells; inflammation
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- Medical Biology - Theses