HIV-1 envelope triggers polyclonal Ig class switch recombination through a CD40-independent mechanism involving BAFF and C-type lectin receptors
HIV Envelope Protein gp120
Immunoglobulin Class Switching
Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
Switching from IgM to IgG and IgA is essential for antiviral immunity and requires engagement of CD40 on B cells by CD40L on CD4(+) T cells. HIV-1 is thought to impair CD40-dependent production of protective IgG and IgA by inducing progressive loss of CD4(+) T cells. Paradoxically, this humoral immunodeficiency is associated with B cell hyperactivation and increased production of nonprotective IgG and IgA that are either nonspecific or specific for HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins, including gp120. Nonspecific and gp120-specific IgG and IgA are sensitive to antiretroviral therapy and remain sustained in infected individuals with very few CD4(+) T cells. One interpretation is that some HIV-1 Ags elicit IgG and IgA class switch DNA recombination (CSR) in a CD40-independent fashion. We show that a subset of B cells binds gp120 through mannose C-type lectin receptors (MCLRs). In the presence of gp120, MCLR-expressing B cells up-regulate the CSR-inducing enzyme, activation-induced cytidine deaminase, and undergo CSR from IgM to IgG and IgA. CSR is further enhanced by IL-4 or IL-10, whereas Ab secretion requires a B cell-activating factor of the TNF family. This CD40L-related molecule is produced by monocytes upon CD4, CCR5, and CXCR4 engagement by gp120 and cooperates with IL-4 and IL-10 to up-regulate MCLRs on B cells. Thus, gp120 may elicit polyclonal IgG and IgA responses by linking the innate and adaptive immune systems through the B cell-activating factor of the TNF family. Chronic activation of B cells through this CD40-independent pathway could impair protective T cell-dependent Ab responses by inducing immune exhaustion.