Histone methyltransferase DOT1L controls state-specific identity during B cell differentiation.


Differentiation of naïve peripheral B cells into terminally differentiated plasma cells is characterized by epigenetic alterations, yet the epigenetic mechanisms that control B-cell fate remain unclear. Here, we identified a role for the histone H3K79 methyltransferase DOT1L in controlling B-cell differentiation. Mouse B cells lacking Dot1L failed to establish germinal centers (GC) and normal humoral immune responses in vivo. In vitro, activated B cells in which Dot1L was deleted showed aberrant differentiation and prematurely acquired plasma cell characteristics. Similar results were obtained when DOT1L was chemically inhibited in mature B cells in vitro. Mechanistically, combined epigenomics and transcriptomics analysis revealed that DOT1L promotes expression of a pro-proliferative, pro-GC program. In addition, DOT1L indirectly supports the repression of an anti-proliferative plasma cell differentiation program by maintaining the repression of Polycomb Repressor Complex 2 (PRC2) targets. Our findings show that DOT1L is a key modulator of the core transcriptional and epigenetic landscape in B cells, establishing an epigenetic barrier that warrants B-cell naivety and GC B-cell differentiation.

More about this publication

EMBO reports
  • Volume 22
  • Issue nr. 2
  • Pages e51184
  • Publication date 03-02-2021

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