Rapid B cell apoptosis induced by antigen receptor ligation does not require Fas (CD95/APO-1), the adaptor protein FADD/MORT1 or CrmA-sensitive caspases but is defective in both MRL-+/+ and MRL-lpr/lpr mice
Antigen receptor ligation-induced apoptosis is thought to play a role in self-tolerance by deleting autoreactive lymphocytes. Antigen receptor ligation-induced apoptosis of mature T cells and T cell lines requires autocrine or paracrine activation of Fas (CD95/APO-1). Whether B cell antigen receptor (BCR)-mediated apoptosis requires Fas or related molecules is unclear. Here we demonstrate that expression of either CrmA, the cowpox virus serpin, or an inhibitor of the adapter protein FADD/MORT1
... locks Fas-mediated apoptosis but has no effect on BCR ligation-induced apoptosis of the B cell line WEHI-231. In contrast, expression of Bcl-2 blocks BCR-mediated but not Fas-induced apoptosis in WEHI-231 cells. These results indicate that BCR ligation activates an apoptotic signaling pathway distinct from Fas-mediated apoptosis in WEHI-231 cells, and that BCR-mediated apoptosis of WEHI-231 cells does not require Fas or related molecules such as DR3, DR4 and DR5, as all of these death receptors require FADD/MORT1 and/or CrmA-sensitive caspases for induction of apoptosis. Moreover, extensive BCR ligation induces death of mature B cells from C57BL/6-lpr/lpr mice as efficiently as those from C57BL/6 mice, indicating that Fas is not essential for BCR-mediated apoptosis of mature B cells. In contrast, BCR ligation-induced apoptosis is reduced in mature B cells from MRL mice and this is not affected by the lpr mutation. Since MRL-lpr/lpr mice but not C57BL/6-lpr/lpr mice develop severe autoimmune disease, defects in BCR-mediated apoptosis in the MRL background, together with lpr mutation, may contribute to the development of severe autoimmune disease in MRL-lpr/lpr mice by allowing survival of selfreactive B cells.