ATG5 regulates plasma cell differentiation

Kara L. Conway, Petric Kuballa, Bernard Khor, Mei Zhang, Hai Ning Shi, Herbert W. Virgin, Ramnik J. Xavier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Autophagy is a conserved homeostatic process in which cytoplasmic contents are degraded and recycled. Two ubiquitinlike conjugation pathways are required for the generation of autophagosomes, and ATG5 is necessary for both of these processes. Studies of mice deficient in ATG5 reveal a key role for autophagy in T lymphocyte function, as well as in B cell development and B-1a B cell maintenance. However, the role of autophagy genes in B cell function and antibody production has not been described. Using mice in which Atg5 is conditionally deleted in B lymphocytes, we showed here that this autophagy gene is essential for plasma cell homeostasis. In the absence of B cell ATG5 expression, antibody responses were significantly diminished during antigen-specific immunization, parasitic infection and mucosal inflammation. Atg5-deficient B cells maintained the ability to produce immunoglobulin and undergo class-switch recombination, yet had impaired SDC1 expression, significantly decreased antibody secretion in response to toll-like receptor ligands, and an inability to upregulate plasma cell transcription factors. These results build upon previous data demonstrating a role for ATG5 in early B cell development, illustrating its importance in late B cell activation and subsequent plasma cell differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-537
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • ATG5
  • Antibody secretion
  • B lymphocytes
  • Immunity
  • Plasma cell differentiation


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