Targeting BMI-1 in B cells restores effective humoral immune responses and controls chronic viral infection

Andrea Di Pietro, Jack Polmear, Lucy Cooper, Timon Damelang, Tabinda Hussain, Lauren Hailes, Kristy O’Donnell, Vibha Udupa, Tian Mi, Simon Preston, Areen Shtewe, Uri Hershberg, Stephen J. Turner, Nicole L. La Gruta, Amy W. Chung, David M. Tarlinton, Christopher D. Scharer, Kim L. Good-Jacobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ineffective antibody-mediated responses are a key characteristic of chronic viral infection. However, our understanding of the intrinsic mechanisms that drive this dysregulation are unclear. Here, we identify that targeting the epigenetic modifier BMI-1 in mice improves humoral responses to chronic lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. BMI-1 was upregulated by germinal center B cells in chronic viral infection, correlating with changes to the accessible chromatin landscape, compared to acute infection. B cell-intrinsic deletion of Bmi1 accelerated viral clearance, reduced splenomegaly and restored splenic architecture. Deletion of Bmi1 restored c-Myc expression in B cells, concomitant with improved quality of antibody and coupled with reduced antibody-secreting cell numbers. Specifically, BMI-1-deficiency induced antibody with increased neutralizing capacity and enhanced antibody-dependent effector function. Using a small molecule inhibitor to murine BMI-1, we could deplete antibody-secreting cells and prohibit detrimental immune complex formation in vivo. This study defines BMI-1 as a crucial immune modifier that controls antibody-mediated responses in chronic infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-98
Number of pages13
JournalNature Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
K.L.G.-J. has received funding from GSK for a separate project. The remaining authors declare no competing interests.

Funding Information:
We thank J. Groom (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute), I. Parish (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre), C. Zaph and J. Rossjohn for critical reading of this manuscript and/or discussions; M. Pellegrini (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute), M. Degli-Esposti (Monash University) and A. Papa (Monash University) for generously providing, respectively, LCMV stocks, IL-2 and c-Myc antibody; J. Sun and members of the Good-Jacobson laboratory for technical assistance; O. Chernyavskiy and the staff of Monash Micro Imaging for the provision of instrumentation training and technical support; Monash FlowCore, Bioinformatics and Animal Research Platforms; and MHTP Medical Genomics Facility. This work was supported by a Bellberry-Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellowship (K.L.G.-J.); National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Career Development Fellowships 1108066 (K.L.G.-J.) and 1140509 (A.W.C.); American Association of Immunologists Careers in Immunology Fellowship and Travel for Techniques program (A.D.P. and K.L.G.-J.); Australian Research Council Future Fellowship FT170100174 and Discovery Project DP200102776, NHMRC Ideas grant 1182086 (N.L.L.G.); NHMRC Program grant 1054925 and Investigator award 1175411 (D.M.T. and K.O.D.); Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP170102020 and NHMRC Ideas grant 1183478 (S.J.T.); Monash University Biomedicine Discovery Institute Scholarship (L.C.); Monash University Scholarship for Excellence (J.P.); Monash University Graduate Scholarship and Monash International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (T.H.); Postgraduate Scholarship from the Bonn University – Melbourne University joining PhD program (V.U.); National Institutes of Health P01 AI106697 and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program 825821 (U.H. and A.S.). The contents of this document can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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