Methylation of an immediate-early inducible gene as a mechanism for B cell tolerance induction

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Science  09 Nov 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4982, pp. 797-800
DOI: 10.1126/science.2237429


Stage-specific gene regulation is important in determining cell function during development. Immature B cells expressing membrane-bound immunoglobulin M (mIgM) are sensitive to antigen-induced tolerance, whereas mature B cells are activated by antigen. Previous studies have established an association between Egr-1 gene induction and antigen receptor (mIgM)-mediated activation of mature B cells. Here it is shown that the immature B cell line WEHI-231 and tolerance-sensitive bone marrow-derived B cells do not express Egr-1. It is further shown that lack of inducible expression in these cells is due to specific methylation of the Egr-1 gene. Thus, covalent inactivation of an activation-associated gene may explain tolerance sensitivity at specific stages of B cell development.

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