IL-4 induces germ-line IgE heavy chain gene transcription in human fetal pre-B cells: Evidence for differential expression of functional IL-4 and IL- 13 receptors during B cell ontogeny
The present study demonstrates that IL-4 induces germ-line IgE heavy chain (epsilon) gene transcription in human fetal splenic mononuclear cells; fetal bone marrow cells; highly purified sorted surface (s) mu+, CD10+, CD19+ immature B cells; and s mu-, cytoplasmic mu+, CD10+, CD19+ pre-B cells derived from human fetal bone marrow. Similar to observations in normal adult B cells, TGF-beta and IFN-gamma inhibited IL-4-induced germ-line epsilon RNA synthesis in fetal pre-B cells, whereas anti-CD40 mAbs and TNF-alpha had enhancing effects, suggesting that the general mechanisms regulating germ-line epsilon transcription in adult B cells and pre-B cells are similar. IL-13 also induced germ-line epsilon RNA synthesis in s mu+, CD10+, CD19+ immature B cells, but the level of transcription induced by IL-13 was significantly less than that induced by IL-4. Anti-CD40 mAbs strongly synergized with both IL-4 and IL-13 in inducing germ-line epsilon RNA synthesis by fetal immature B cells. Interestingly, IL-13 failed to induce germ-line epsilon RNA synthesis in s mu- pre-B cells even in the presence of anti-CD40 mAbs. These distinct effects of IL-4 and IL-13 suggest that functional IL-13R are expressed at a later stage of B cell ontogeny than IL-4R, and that IL-13, in contrast to IL-4, does not regulate pre-B cell differentiation. Given the fact that IL-4 production appears to be enhanced in atopic individuals, the capacity of IL-4 to induce germ-line epsilon transcription in human fetal immature B cells and pre-B cells suggests that commitment of B cell precursors to IgE-producing cells may occur during intrauterine life and may explain the increased IgE production in neonates with a family history of atopy.