High-affinity allergen-specific human antibodies cloned from single IgE B cell transcriptomes

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Science  14 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6420, pp. 1306-1309
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau2599

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IgE B cells unmasked

Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies play a central role in immune responses against helminth and protozoan parasites; however, they also contribute to allergies. IgE antibodies (and the B cells generating them) are rare and thus poorly characterized. Croote et al. performed single-cell RNA sequencing of peripheral blood B cells from patients with peanut allergies and delineated each cell's gene expression, splice variants, and antibody sequences (see the Perspective by Gould and Ramadani). Unlike other isotypes, circulating IgE B cells were mostly immature plasmablasts. Surprisingly, certain IgE antibodies manifested identical gene rearrangements in unrelated individuals. These IgE antibodies showed high affinity and unexpected cross-reactivity to peanut allergens.

Science, this issue p. 1306; see also p. 1247


Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies protect against helminth infections but can also cause life-threatening allergic reactions. Despite their role in human health, the cells that produce these antibodies are rarely observed and remain enigmatic. We isolated single IgE B cells from individuals with food allergies and used single-cell RNA sequencing to elucidate the gene expression and splicing patterns unique to these cells. We identified a surprising example of convergent evolution in which IgE antibodies underwent identical gene rearrangements in unrelated individuals. Through the acquisition of variable region mutations, these IgE antibodies gained high affinity and unexpected cross-reactivity to the clinically important peanut allergens Ara h 2 and Ara h 3. These findings provide insight into IgE B cell transcriptomics and enable biochemical dissection of this antibody class.

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