The structure of the TNFRSF13C promoter enables differential expression of BAFF-R during B cell ontogeny and terminal differentiation

Stephen A. Mihalcik, Paul M. Huddleston, Xiaosheng Wu, Diane F. Jelinek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The B cell-activating factor of the TNF family receptor (BAFF-R), encoded by the TNFRSF13C gene, is critically important for transitional B cell survival to maturity. Thus, ligation of BAFF-R by BAFF delivers a potent survival signal. Reports implicating the BAFF/BAFF-R signaling axis in the pathogenesis of autoimmune human diseases and B lineage malignancies have largely prompted studies focusing on BAFF expression; however, there is an equally critical need to better understand BAFF-R expression. Initial BAFF-R expression, although characterized in murine B cells, has not yet been reported in human B lymphopoiesis. In this study, we first demonstrate that BAFF-R expression is absent from early precursors and is acquired by bone marrow B cells newly expressing the BCR. We next focused on identifying the specific genomic region that controls BAFF-R expression in mature B cells (i.e., the TNFRSF13C promoter). To accomplish this, we used in silico tools examining interspecies genomic conservation in conjunction with reporter constructs transfected into malignant B and plasma cell lines. DNase protection assays using nuclear extracts from BAFF-R - expressing cells suggested potential regulatory sites, which allowed the generation of EMSA probes that bound NFs specific to BAFF-R - expressing cells. With a more stringent analysis of interspecies homology, these assays identified a site at which a single nucleotide substitution could distinctly impact promoter activity. Finally, chromatin immunoprecipitation assays revealed the in vivo binding of the specific transcription factor c-Rel to the most proximal genomic region, and c-Rel small interfering RNA transfections in BAFF-R-expressing lines demonstrated a coincident knockdown of both c-Rel and BAFF-R mRNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1045-1054
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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