Inositol-Requiring Enzyme 1α–Mediated Synthesis of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids as a Driver of B Cell Differentiation and Lupus-like Autoimmune Disease

Yana Zhang*, Ming Gui, Yajun Wang, Nikita Mani, Shuvam Chaudhuri, Beixue Gao, Huabin Li, Yashpal S Kanwar, Sarah A. Lewis, Sabrina N. Dumas, James M. Ntambi, Kezhong Zhang, Deyu Fang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To explore the molecular mechanisms underlying dysregulation of lipid metabolism in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Methods: B cells in peripheral blood from patients with SLE and healthy controls were stained with BODIPY dye for detection of lipids. Mice with targeted knockout of genes for B cell–specific inositol-requiring enzyme 1α (IRE-1α) and stearoyl-coenzyme A desaturase 1 (SCD-1) were used for studying the influence of the IRE-1α/SCD-1/SCD-2 pathway on B cell differentiation and autoantibody production. The preclinical efficacy of IRE-1α suppression as a treatment for lupus was tested in MRL.Faslpr mice. Results: In cultures with mouse IRE-1α–null B cells, supplementation with monounsaturated fatty acids largely rescued differentiation of plasma cells from B cells, indicating that the compromised capacity of B cell differentiation in the absence of IRE-1α may be attributable to a defect in monounsaturated fatty acid synthesis. Moreover, activation with IRE-1α/X-box binding protein 1 (XBP-1) was required to facilitate B cell expression of SCD-1 and SCD-2, which are 2 critical enzymes that catalyze monounsaturated fatty acid synthesis. Mice with targeted Scd1 gene deletion displayed a phenotype that was similar to that of IRE-1α–deficient mice, with diminished B cell differentiation into plasma cells. Importantly, in B cells from patients with lupus, both IRE-1α expression and Xbp1 messenger RNA splicing were significantly increased, and this was positively correlated with the expression of both Scd1 and Scd2 as well as with the amount of B cell lipid deposition. In MRL.Faslpr mice, both genetic and pharmacologic suppression of IRE-1α protected against the pathologic development and progression of lupus-like autoimmune disease. Conclusion: The results of this study reveal a molecular link in the dysregulation of lipid metabolism in the pathogenesis of lupus, demonstrating that the IRE-1α/XBP-1 pathway controls plasma cell differentiation through SCD-1/SCD-2–mediated monounsaturated fatty acid synthesis. These findings provide a rationale for targeting IRE-1α and monounsaturated fatty acid synthesis in the treatment of patients with SLE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2314-2326
Number of pages13
JournalArthritis and Rheumatology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology


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