Mitochondria, Cell Death, and B Cell ToleranceDeming P. · Rathmell J.
aDepartment of Pathology and Vermont Cancer Center, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt., and b Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Department of Immunology, Sarah W. Stedman Center for Nutrition and Metabolism, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C., USA
To prevent autoimmunity, it is critical that tolerance mechanisms block autoantibody production from self-reactive B cells. B cell tolerance is maintained through mechanisms that can reversibly or irreversibly silence autoreactive B cells. Of these mechanisms, those that lead to B cell death offer the most reliable form of tolerance to prevent autoimmunity. In many cases, death of autoreactive B cells is regulated by the cell intrinsic, or mitochondrial pathway of cell death. The pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins, Bak, Bax, and Bim have been shown to be required for disruption of mitochondria and intrinsic cell death of self-reactive B cells whereas the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and Mcl-1 can prevent cell death by interfering with the action of Bax and Bak. Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL have also been shown to regulate the autophagic cell death pathway that may also play a role in B cell tolerance. Even after mitochondrial disruption, mechanisms exist that may impede activation of caspases and death of autoreactive B cells. Together, understanding of cell death mechanisms and how they may affect B cell tolerance has made significant recent advances and it is now important to incorporate alternate and post-mitochondrial cell death mechanisms into B cell tolerance models.
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