B-cell superantigens (Sags) bind to conserved sites of the VH or VL regions of immunoglobulin molecules outside their complementarity-determining regions causing the apoptosis of normal cognate B cells. No attempts to investigate whether B-cell Sags are able to induce the apoptosis of cognate malignant B cells were reported. In the present study we show that protein L (PpL), secreted by Finegoldia magna, a B-cell Sag which interacts with κ+ bearing cells, induces the apoptosis of murine and human κ+ lymphoma B cells both in vitro and in vivo. Apoptosis was not altered by caspase-8 inhibitor. No alterations in the levels of Bid, Fas and Fas-L were found suggesting that PpL does not activate the extrinsic pathway of apoptosis. The involvement of the intrinsic pathway was clearly indicated by: i) alterations in mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) both in murine and human lymphoma cells exposed to PpL; ii) decreased levels of apoptosis in the presence of caspase-9 inhibitor; iii) significant increases of Bim and Bax protein levels and downregulation of Bcl-2; iv) the translocation from the cytoplasm to the mitochondria of Bax and Bim pro-apoptotic proteins and its inhibition by caspase-9 inhibitor but not by caspase-8 inhibitor and v) the translocation of Bcl-2 protein from the mitochondria to the cytosol and its inhibition by caspase-9 inhibitor but not by caspase-8 inhibitor. The possibility of a therapeutic use of Sags in lymphoma/leukemia B cell malignancies is discussed.
Lorenzo, D., Duarte, A., Mundiñano, J., Berguer, P., Nepomnaschy, I., & Piazzon, I. P. (2016). A B-Cell superantigen induces the apoptosis of murine and human malignant B Cells. PLoS ONE, 11(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0162456