Research reveals a critical role of PRMT1 in antibody response

A new study has demonstrated a critical role of the enzyme PRMT1 in the activation and differentiation of B cells, the cells that produce antibodies to clear infections.

The work was conducted by researchers from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne in Australia, and McGill University in Canada.

Protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs) are a family of enzymes that catalyze arginine methylation, a common posttranslational modification involved in a variety of physiological processes, such as signal transduction, transcriptional regulation, protein translocation, etc.

In mammalian cells, PRMT1 is particularly important. Although previous studies have implicated it in a multitude of pathways, there are still questions to be answered. In this work, the researchers focused on the role of PRMT1 in B cells.

Like other white blood cells, B cells arise from hematopoietic stem cells that reside within the bone marrow. In mammals, B cells mature in the bone marrow, and then travel through the body, collecting in the lymph nodes. To produce antibodies, B cells must be activated, proliferate, and differentiate into antibody-secreting cells. This process involves significant remodeling of the cell. Findings of this work suggest that PRMT1 may be involved in such remodeling.

Using a special mouse model that was PRMT1 deficient, the researchers discovered that the enzyme is not required for the appearance or maintenance of peripheral B cell subsets, but plays a key role in the activation, proliferation and differentiation of B cells. PRMT1 activity appeared to be critical to a normal antibody response to an antigen as well as a normal memory B-cell response. In a word, PRMT1 activity is necessary for humoral immunity.

According to corresponding author Prof. David Tarlinton, their study would have implications in the treatment of cancer and autoimmune disorders. The study appears online in Nature Communications.
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