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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cytoskeletal control of B cell receptor dynamics and signaling Freeman, Spencer Alexander


The nucleation, polymerization, and depolymerization of actin filaments is spatially and temporally controlled in order to regulate cell motility, cell morphology, and protein organization within the plasma membrane. By limiting receptor diffusion, the submembrane actin cytoskeleton modulates the signaling output of receptors such as the B-cell antigen (Ag) receptor (BCR) that are activated by clustering. Restricting BCR mobility limits BCR-BCR collisions and the resultant ‘tonic’ signaling. Conversely, more dynamic actin filaments or F-actin clearance promotes BCR-BCR collisions and leads to a ‘primed’ state where the threshold for Ag-induced activation is reduced. In chapter 2, I show a mechanism of receptor cross-talk where microbial danger signals (TLR ligands) prime B cells for Ag-induced activation by enhancing actin dynamics. TLR signaling reduced BCR confinement, promoted BCR-BCR collisions and potentiated responses to low densities of membrane-associated Ags. The interaction of B-cells with antigen-presenting cells displaying membrane-Ags results in initial BCR signaling that promotes cell spreading and increases the probability of BCRs encountering Ag. This is coupled with increased BCR mobility and the formation of BCR microclusters that recruit and activate signaling enzymes. Cell spreading and BCR microcluster mobility require severing of cortical submembrane actin, a precursor to F-actin branching that drives cell spreading. In chapter 3, I show that BCR signaling increases actin dynamics and BCR microcluster formation by activating the actin-severing protein cofilin via a signaling pathway involving Rap GTPases.

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