Immunological phenotype of the murine Lrba knockout
Biallelic mutations in the human lipopolysaccharide responsive beige-like anchor (LRBA) gene lead to a primary immunodeficiency known as LRBA deficiency, characterized by a broad range of clinical manifestations including autoimmunity, organomegaly, hypogammaglobulinemia and recurrent infections. Considering the phenotypic heterogeneity in patients and the severity of the disease, our aim was to assess the role of LRBA in immune cells and to understand the underlying pathomechanisms through the study of a Lrba knockout (Lrba-/-) mouse model. LRBA-deficient mice did not show severe clinical or immunological signs of disease, either at steady state under specific-pathogen-free conditions, after vaccination with T-dependent and T-independent antigens, or in the context of acute infections with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) or Salmonella Typhimurium. Although Lrba-/- mice were able to produce normal serum immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgG and to mount a specific immune response after immunization, they showed elevated serum and secretory basal IgA levels. LRBA was dispensable for B- and T-cell development, as well as for in vitro B-cell proliferation, survival, isotype switching and plasmablast differentiation. Interestingly, Lrba-/- mice displayed decreased cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein-4 (CTLA-4) expression by regulatory T cells and activated conventional CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes, reduced frequency of peritoneal B-1a cells along with diminished interleukin-10 production and increased percentages of T follicular helper cells in Peyer’s patches, but without developing overt signs of autoimmunity. Our findings expand the role of LRBA in immune regulatory mechanisms previously reported in patients, and suggest a novel role in IgA production that is crucial for the protection of mucosal surfaces and gut-associated immune tolerance.