Molecular and Cellular Biology
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Generation of antibodies against T-independent and T-dependent antigens requires Toll-like receptor (TLR) engagement on B cells for efficient responses. However, the regulation of TLR expression and responses in B cells is not well understood. PU.1 and Spi-B (encoded by Sfpi1 and Spib, respectively) are transcription factors of the E26 transformation-specific (ETS) family and are important for B cell development and function. It was found that B cells from mice knocked out for Spi-B and heterozygous for PU.1 (Sfpi1+/- Spib-/- [PUB] mice) proliferated poorly in response to TLR ligands compared to wild-type (WT) B cells. The NF-κB family member p50 (encoded by Nfkb1) is required for lipopolysaccharide (LPS) responsiveness in mice. PUB B cells expressed reduced Nfkb1 mRNA transcripts and p50 protein. The Nfkb1 promoter was regulated directly by PU.1 and Spi-B, as shown by reporter assays and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis. Occupancy of the Nfkb1 promoter by PU.1 was reduced in PUB B cells compared to that in WT B cells. Finally, infection of PUB B cells with a retroviral vector encoding p50 substantially restored proliferation in response to LPS. We conclude that Nfkb1 transcriptional activation by PU.1 and Spi-B promotes TLR-mediated B cell proliferation.