Mechanics of antigen extraction by B cells

Abstract : B cells produce antibodies and are therefore essential effectors of adaptive immunity. In vivo, their activation is mostly triggered by the engagement of their B cell receptor (BCR) with antigens exposed at the surface of neighboring antigen presenting cells. This leads to formation of an immune synapse that coordinates the signaling and cytoskeleton rearrangement events that are essential for B cells to extract and process antigens. Two models have been proposed for extraction of surface-tethered antigens by B cells: (1) Membrane spreading followed by cell contraction and (2) direct mechanical pulling on BCR-antigen molecular complexes. According to the first model, specific recognition by the BCR of antigens bound to supported lipid bilayer leads to contraction of the actin cytoskeleton, transporting BCR-bound antigens towards the centre of the synapse. The second model arose from observations made using atomic force microscopy of antigens tethered to plasma membrane sheets, which suggest the actin based motor protein myosin II actively pulls on BCR-antigen complexes in clathrin coated pits. It has also been shown that antigens can be internalized via protease secretion at the synapse, but this pathway only activate if the mechanical pathway fails, typically on non-deformable antigen coated substrates. In this study, we developed a method for extracting force patterns using antigen-coated substrate deformations for direct force visualization (traction force microscopy, TFM). We demonstrate the existence of global contractile forces at the periphery of the synapse and local pulling forces at its center. Peripheral contractile forces were dependent on the centripetal organization of myosin II, whereas central pulling forces were generated by F-actin protrusions formed in a myosin II-dependent manner. We observed collective pulsatile contractions, potentially underlying the organization of actin structures in the center of the synapse through intermittent myosin II activity. Our results thus propose a unified model for antigen extraction by B cells where myosin II is needed for global cell contractility as well as for antigen internalization through local regulation of actin dynamics. Importantly, the methods and model proposed here may be generalizable to other systems involving surface-tethered molecules, as this model might concern many endocytic processes in vivo.
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Anita Kumari. Mechanics of antigen extraction by B cells. Human health and pathology. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017USPCB037⟩. ⟨tel-02181415⟩

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