TLR-mediated activation of Waldenström macroglobulinemia B cells reveals an uncoupling from plasma cell differentiation
Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM) is a rare malignancy in which clonal B cells infiltrate the bone marrow and give rise to a smaller compartment of neoplastic plasma cells that secrete monoclonal immunoglobulin M paraprotein. Recent studies into underlying mutations in WM have enabled a much greater insight into the pathogenesis of this lymphoma. However, there is considerably less characterization of the way in which WM B cells differentiate and how they respond to immune stimuli. In this
... y, we assess WM B-cell differentiation using an established in vitro model system. Using T-cell–dependent conditions, we obtained CD138+ plasma cells from WM samples with a frequency similar to experiments performed with B cells from normal donors. Unexpectedly, a proportion of the WM B cells failed to upregulate CD38, a surface marker that is normally associated with plasmablast transition and maintained as the cells proceed with differentiation. In normal B cells, concomitant Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) activation and B-cell receptor cross-linking drives proliferation, followed by differentiation at similar efficiency to CD40-mediated stimulation. In contrast, we found that, upon stimulation with TLR7 agonist R848, WM B cells failed to execute the appropriate changes in transcriptional regulators, identifying an uncoupling of TLR signaling from the plasma cell differentiation program. Provision of CD40L was sufficient to overcome this defect. Thus, the limited clonotypic WM plasma cell differentiation observed in vivo may result from a strict requirement for integrated activation.