Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 2020-02-15; 204.4: 796-809.

Type II but Not Type I IFN Signaling Is Indispensable for TLR7-Promoted Development of Autoreactive B Cells and Systemic Autoimmunity

Chodisetti SB, Fike AJ, Domeier PP, Singh H, Choi NM, Corradetti C, Kawasawa YI, Cooper TK, Caricchio R, Rahman ZSM

PMID: 31900342


TLR7 is associated with development of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but the underlying mechanisms are incompletely understood. Although TLRs are known to activate type I IFN (T1IFN) signaling, the role of T1IFN and IFN-γ signaling in differential regulation of TLR7-mediated Ab-forming cell (AFC) and germinal center (GC) responses, and SLE development has never been directly investigated. Using TLR7-induced and TLR7 overexpression models of SLE, we report in this study a previously unrecognized indispensable role of TLR7-induced IFN-γ signaling in promoting AFC and GC responses, leading to autoreactive B cell and SLE development. T1IFN signaling in contrast, only modestly contributed to autoimmune responses and the disease process in these mice. TLR7 ligand imiquimod treated IFN-γ reporter mice show that CD4 effector T cells including follicular helper T (Tfh) cells are the major producers of TLR7-induced IFN-γ. Transcriptomic analysis of splenic tissues from imiquimod-treated autoimmune-prone B6.Sle1b mice sufficient and deficient for IFN-γR indicates that TLR7-induced IFN-γ activates multiple signaling pathways to regulate TLR7-promoted SLE. Conditional deletion of gene in peripheral B cells further demonstrates that TLR7-driven autoimmune AFC, GC and Tfh responses and SLE development are dependent on IFN-γ signaling in B cells. Finally, we show crucial B cell-intrinsic roles of STAT1 and T-bet in TLR7-driven GC, Tfh and plasma cell differentiation. Altogether, we uncover a nonredundant role for IFN-γ and its downstream signaling molecules STAT1 and T-bet in B cells in promoting TLR7-driven AFC, GC, and SLE development whereas T1IFN signaling moderately contributes to these processes.