Research ArticleIMMUNOLOGY

A tyrosine sulfation–dependent HLA-I modification identifies memory B cells and plasma cells

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Science Advances  07 Nov 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 11, eaar7653
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar7653


Memory B cells and plasma cells are antigen-experienced cells tasked with the maintenance of humoral protection. Despite these prominent functions, definitive cell surface markers have not been identified for these cells. We report here the isolation and characterization of the monoclonal variable lymphocyte receptor B (VLRB) N8 antibody from the evolutionarily distant sea lamprey that specifically recognizes memory B cells and plasma cells in humans. Unexpectedly, we determined that VLRB N8 recognizes the human leukocyte antigen–I (HLA-I) antigen in a tyrosine sulfation–dependent manner. Furthermore, we observed increased binding of VLRB N8 to memory B cells in individuals with autoimmune disorders multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Our study indicates that lamprey VLR antibodies uniquely recognize a memory B cell– and plasma cell–specific posttranslational modification of HLA-I, the expression of which is up-regulated during B cell activation.

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