Proapoptotic BIM impacts B lymphoid homeostasis by limiting the survival of mature B cells in a cell-autonomous manner

Rui Liu, Ashleigh King, Philippe Bouillet, David M. Tarlinton, Andreas Strasser, Jörg Heierhorst

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The proapoptotic BH3-only protein BIM (Bcl2l11) plays key roles in the maintenance of multiple hematopoietic cell types. In mice, germline knockout or conditional pan-hematopoietic deletion of Bim results in marked splenomegaly and significantly increased numbers of B cells. However, it has remained unclear whether these abnormalities reflect the loss of cell-intrinsic functions of BIM within the B lymphoid lineage and, if so, which stages in the lifecycle of B cells are most impacted by the loss of BIM. Here, we show that B lymphoid-specific conditional deletion of Bim during early development (i.e., in pro-B cells using Mb1-Cre) or during the final differentiation steps (i.e., in transitional B cells using Cd23-Cre) led to a similar > 2-fold expansion of the mature follicular B cell pool. Notably, while the expansion of mature B cells was quantitatively similar in conditional and germline Bim-deficient mice, the splenomegaly was significantly attenuated after B lymphoid-specific compared to global Bim deletion. In vitro, conditional loss of Bim substantially increased the survival of mature B cells that were refractory to activation by lipopolysaccharide. Finally, we also found that conditional deletion of just one Bim allele by Mb1-Cre dramatically accelerated the development of Myc-driven B cell lymphoma, in a manner that was comparable to the effect of germline Bim heterozygosity. These data indicate that, under physiological conditions, BIM regulates B cell homeostasis predominantly by limiting the life span of non-activated mature B cells, and that it can have additional effects on developing B cells under pathological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number592
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Issue numberMAR
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2018


  • Apoptosis
  • B cell lymphoma
  • B lymphocytes
  • BCL-2 family
  • BH3-only protein
  • BIM
  • Cell death

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