Notch1 engagement by Delta-like-1 promotes differentiation of B lymphocytes to antibody-secreting cells
Notch signaling regulates B and T lymphocyte development and T cell effector class decision. In this work, we tested whether Notch activity affects mature B cell activation and differentiation to antibody-secreting cells (ASC). We show increased frequency of ASC in cultures of splenic B cells activated with LPS or anti-CD40 when provided exogenous Notch ligand Delta-like-1 (Dll1). Our results indicate that Notch-Dll1 interaction releases a default pathway that otherwise inhibits Ig secretion upon B cell activation. Thus, Dll1 enhanced spontaneous Ig secretion by naturally activated marginal zone B and B1 cells and reversed the inhibition of ASC differentiation mediated by B cell receptor crosslinking during LPS. Moreover, suppression of Notch signaling in B cell expression of either a dominant-negative mutant form of Mastermind-like 1 or a null mutation of Notch1 not only prevented Dll1-mediated enhancement of ASC differentiation but also reduced dramatically LPS-induced Ig secretion. Finally, we show that Dll1 and Jagged-1 are differentially expressed in discrete areas of the spleen, and that the effect of Notch engagement on Ig secretion is ligand-specific. These results indicate that Notch ligands participate in the definition of the mature B cell microenvironment that influences their terminal differentiation.