Megakaryocyte progenitors are the main APCs inducing Th17 response to lupus autoantigens and foreign antigens

Hee Kap Kang, Ming Yi Chiang, Diane Ecklund, Li Zhang, Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman, Syamal K. Datta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In search of autoantigen-presenting cells that prime the pathogenic autoantibody-inducing Th cells of lupus, we found that CD41 +CD151 + cells among Lineage - (Lin -) CD117 + (c-Kit +) CX3CR1 - splenocytes depleted of known APCs were most proficient in presenting nuclear autoantigens from apoptotic cells to induce selectively an autoimmune Th17 response in different lupus-prone mouse strains. The new APCs have properties resembling megakaryocyte and/or bipotent megakaryocyte/erythroid progenitors of bone marrow, hence they are referred to as MM cells in this study. The MM cells produce requisite cytokines, but they require contact for optimal Th17 induction upon nucleosome feeding, and can induce Th17 only before undergoing differentiation to become c-Kit -CD41 + cells. The MM cells expand up to 10-fold in peripheral blood of lupus patients and 49-fold in spleens of lupus mice preceding disease activity; they accelerate lupus in vivo and break tolerance in normal mice, inducing autoimmune Th17 cells. MM cells also cause Th17 skewing to foreign Ag in normal mice without Th17-polarizing culture conditions. Several molecules inMM cells are targets for blocking of autoimmunization. This study advances our understanding of lupus pathogenesis and Th17 differentiation biology by characterizing a novel category of APC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5970-5980
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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