On the basis of somatic hypermutation status of their B-cell antigen receptor (BCR) genes, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients can be divided into unmutated CLL (U-CLL) or mutated CLL (M-CLL). Approximately 30% of CLL patients express a stereotypic BCR, which may indicate that specific antigenic stimulation is driving CLL pathogenesis. Recently, it was reported that BCRs from CLL cells are capable of antigen-independent, cell-autonomous signaling, through recognition of an internal framework 2 (FR2) BCR epitope. We hypothesized that the level of cell-autonomous signaling may differ between CLL subgroups. Therefore, we analyzed Ca 2+ signaling in a series of primary stereotypic or heterogeneous U-CLL and M-CLL (n=68) and healthy controls (n=14). We confirmed that basal Ca 2+ signaling in CLL cells is higher than in normal B cells. Interestingly, we found that basal signaling was particularly increased in M-CLL. The degree of basal signaling did not correlate with membrane immunoglobulin levels, HCDR3 characteristics or FR2/FR3 sequence. We conclude that the level of basal Ca 2+ signaling is not uniformly enhanced in CLL B cells, but is associated with CLL immunoglobulin heavy chain V mutational status, reflecting a distinct cellular origin and possibly a different anergic state induced by repetitive or continuous antigen binding in vivo.

doi.org/10.1038/leu.2014.188, hdl.handle.net/1765/91594
Department of Immunology