Signaling from the BCR and B cell activating factor receptor (BAFF-R or BR3) differentially regulates apoptosis within early transitional (T1) and late transitional (T2; CD21int-T2) B cells during selection processes to generate mature B lymphocytes. However, molecular mechanisms underlying the differential sensitivity of transitional B cells to apoptosis remain unclear. In this study, we demonstrate that BCR signaling induced more long-term c-Rel activation in T2 and mature than in T1 B cells leading to increased expression of anti-apoptotic genes as well as prosurvival BAFF-R and its downstream substrate p100 (NF-κB2). Sustained c-Rel activation required de novo c-Rel gene transcription and translation via Btk-dependent mechanisms. Like T1 cells, mature B cells from Btk- and c-Rel-deficient mice also failed to activate these genes. These findings suggest that the gain of survival potential within transitional B cells is dependent on the ability to produce a long-term c-Rel response, which plays a critical role in T2 B cell survival and differentiation in vivo by inducing anti-apoptotic genes, BAFF-R and NF-κB2, an essential component for BAFF-R survival signaling. Thus, acquisition of resistance to apoptosis during transitional B cell maturation is achieved by integration of BCR and BAFF-R signals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas