B cell differentiation and humoral immune responses are markedly suppressed by the persistent environmental contaminant, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). The suppression of humoral immune responses by TCDD occurs by direct actions on the B cell and involves activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. Transcriptional regulation of paired box gene 5 (Pax5), an important regulator of B cell differentiation, is altered by TCDD in concordance with the suppression of B cell differentiation and humoral immunoglobulin M response. We hypothesized that TCDD treatment leads to dysregulation of Pax5 transcription by interfering with the basic B cell differentiation mechanisms and aimed to determine the effects of TCDD on upstream regulators of Pax5. A critical regulator of B cell differentiation, B lymphocyte–induced maturation protein-1 (Blimp-1) acts as a transcriptional repressor of Pax5. In lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated murine B cell lymphoma, CH12.LX, Blimp-1 messenger RNA, and DNA-binding activity within the Pax5 promoter were suppressed by TCDD. Furthermore, LPS activation of CH12.LX cells upregulated DNA-binding activity of activator protein 1 (AP-1) at three responsive element–like motifs within the Blimp-1 promoter. TCDD treatment of LPS-activated CH12.LX cells suppressed AP-1 binding to these motifs between 24 and 72 h, in concordance with the suppression of Blimp-1 by TCDD. A more comprehensive analysis at 72 h demonstrated that the suppression of AP-1 binding within the Blimp-1 promoter by TCDD was concentration dependent. In summary, our findings link the TCDD-mediated suppression of Blimp-1 through AP-1 to the dysregulation of Pax5, which ultimately leads to the suppression of B cell differentiation and humoral immune responses
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