Life Science Alliance

Convergent evolution and B-cell recirculation in germinal centers in a human lymph node

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Germinal centers (GCs) play a central role in generating an effective immune response against infectious pathogens, and failures in their regulating mechanisms can lead to the development of autoimmune diseases and cancer. Although previous works study experimental systems of the immune response with mouse models that are immunized with specific antigens, our study focused on a real-life situation, with an ongoing GC response in a human lymph node (LN) involving multiple asynchronized GCs reacting simultaneously to unknown antigens. We combined laser capture microdissection of individual GCs from human LN with next-generation repertoire sequencing to characterize individual GCs as distinct evolutionary spaces. In line with well-characterized GC responses in mice, elicited by immunization with model antigens, we observe a heterogeneous clonal diversity across individual GCs from the same human LN. Still, we identify shared clones in several individual GCs, and phylogenetic tree analysis combined with paratope modeling suggest the re-engagement and rediversification of B-cell clones across GCs and expanded clones exhibiting shared antigen responses across distinct GCs, indicating convergent evolution of the GCs.