Transient suppression of B cell function often accompanies acute viral infection. However, the molecular signaling circuitry that enforces this hyporesponsiveness is undefined. In this study, experiments identify up-regulation of the inositol phosphatase PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog) as primarily responsible for defects in B lymphocyte migration and antibody responses that accompany acute viral infection. B cells from mice acutely infected with gammaherpesvirus 68 are defective in BCR- and CXCR4-mediated activation of the PI3K pathway, and this, we show, is associated with increased PTEN expression. This viral infection-induced PTEN overexpression appears responsible for the suppression of antibody responses observed in infected mice because PTEN deficiency or expression of a constitutively active PI3K rescued function of B cells in infected mice. Conversely, induced overexpression of PTEN in B cells in uninfected mice led to suppression of antibody responses. Finally, we demonstrate that PTEN up-regulation is a common mechanism by which infection induces suppression of antibody responses. Collectively, these findings identify a novel role for PTEN during infection and identify regulation of the PI3K pathway, a mechanism previously shown to silence autoreactive B cells, as a key physiological target to control antibody responses.
- Submitted: 24 June 2016
- Revision received 23 October 2016
- Accepted: 30 January 2017
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