The establishment of resident memory B cells in the lung requires local antigen encounter


Memory B cells are found in lymphoid and non-lymphoid tissues, suggesting that some may be tissue-resident cells. Here we show that pulmonary influenza infection elicited lung-resident memory B cells (BRM cells) that were phenotypically and functionally distinct from their systemic counterparts. BRM cells were established in the lung early after infection, in part because their placement required local antigen encounter. Lung BRM cells, but not systemic memory B cells, contributed to early plasmablast responses following challenge infection. Following secondary infection, antigen-specific BRM cells differentiated in situ, whereas antigen-non-specific BRM cells were maintained as memory cells. These data demonstrate that BRM cells are an important component of immunity to respiratory viruses such as influenza virus and suggest that vaccines designed to elicit BRM cells must deliver antigen to the lungs.

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Fig. 1: Identification of influenza-specific B cells.
Fig. 2: Phenotype of memory B cells in the lung and lymphoid organs.
Fig. 3: Identification of influenza-specific, non-circulating BRM cells in the lung.
Fig. 4: BRM cells in the lung are established early after infection.
Fig. 5: BRM cells in the lung are generated from early CD40-dependent precursors.
Fig. 6: Establishment of BRM cells in the lung requires local antigen encounter.
Fig. 7: BRM cells are associated with protection from secondary infection.
Fig. 8: BRM cells are required for rapid secondary ASCs in the lung.

Data availability

The data supporting the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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The authors would like to thank U. Mudunuru and S. Simpler for animal husbandry and the Rheumatic Diseases Core Center flow cytometry facility, which is supported by AI078907. This work was supported by NIH grants HL69409, AI100127, AI097357, AI109962 to T.D.R. and AI120508 to S.R.A.

Author information

S.R.A., F.E.L. and T.D.R. designed the experiments. J.E.B., B.A.G. and T.D.R. designed the recombinant influenza proteins and J.E.B. and B.A.G. expressed, purified and characterized the tetramers. U.M. and S.R.A performed the surgeries. M.D.S. performed the intratracheal infections. S.R.A performed and analyzed the experiments and generated the figures. S.R.A. and T.D.R. wrote the manuscript. All authors edited the manuscript.

Correspondence to Troy D. Randall.

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Integrated supplementary information

Supplementary Fig. 1 Gating strategies.

Gates are shown sequentially from left to right. Coloured gates are used in the figures listed to the right in font of the same colour.

Supplementary Fig. 2 Identification of influenza-specific memory B cells.

(af) Cells from the lungs (a,d), mLNs (b,e) and spleens (c,f) of naïve mice or PR8-infected mice were gated on live, singlet lymphocytes and then on CD19+CD38hiIgDIgM+ (IgM memory) or CD19+CD38hiIgDIgM (ISW memory) (Supplementary Fig. 1c) and analysed for NP-specific or HA-specific memory B cells on day 30 (ac) or day 70 (df) after infection. Data are representative of four experiments with five mice/timepoint.

Supplementary Fig. 3 Phenotypic characteristics of non-circulating and total memory B cells.

(a,b) Mice were infected with PR8 influenza A virus, and cells from the mLN, lung and spleen were gated on live singlet lymphocytes and then on NP-specific CD19+CD38+IgMIgD ISW memory B cells that were either B220+/– (combined circulating and non-circulating; a) or B220 (non-circulating; b) (gating strategy as in Fig. 2a–d). The phenotype within these populations was determined as in Fig. 2e–i. Data are representative of five experiments with five mice each. Graphs show individual data points (n = 5) as well as mean ± SD. Data were analysed by one-way ANOVA with Tukey’s correction for multiple comparisons: (a) CD73+PD-L2+ ***p = 0.0002, ****p = 0.0001; (a) CD80PD-L2+ ****p = 0.0001, ####p = 0.0001; (a) CD69+CD103 ns = 0.4447, *p = 0.0129; (a) CD62L+CD69+ ns = 0.0511, *p = 0.0237; (a) CXCR3+ *p = 0.0350, **p = 0.0054; (b) CD73+PD-L2+ ****p = 0.0001, ####p = 0.0001; (b) CD80PD-L2+ ****p = 0.0001, ####p = 0.0001; (b) CD69+CD103 ***p = 0.0002, *p = 0.0105; (b) CD62L+CD69+ *p = 0.0471, **p = 0.0042; (b) CXCR3+ *p = 0.0206, ***p = 0.0008; p < 0.05 is considered significant. (ce) Cells from the mLN (c), spleen (d) and lung (e) of day 44 PR8-infected mice were gated on live, singlet lymphocytes (Supplementary Fig. 1a) and then on NP-specific CD19+CD38+IgD memory B cells, and the frequency of IgM-, IgA-, IgG1-, IgG2b-, IgG2c- and IgG3-expressing cells was determined. Data are representative of three experiments with five mice.

Supplementary Fig. 4 Identification of influenza-specific, non-circulating and total memory B cells.

(al) Mice were infected on day 0, surgically paired with partner mice on day 44 and analysed on day 59. Cells from the lung (ad), mLN (eh) or spleen (il) were gated on live, singlet lymphocytes (Supplementary Fig. 1a) and subsequently gated on CD19+CD38+IgDIgM+ (IgM) or CD19+CD38+IgDIgM (ISW) NP-specific memory B cells in either the B220 (non-circulating; a,c,e,g,i,k) or B220+/– (combined circulating and non-circulating; b,d,f,h,j,l) fractions. The numbers of NP-specific memory B cells derived from host and partner mice in the lung (c,d), mLN (g,h) and spleen (i,j) are shown for both the non-circulating fraction and the total (combined circulating and non-circulating) fraction. Data are representative of three experiments combined, totalling 11 pairs of mice. Graphs show individual data as well as mean ± SD. Significance was determined using one-way ANOVA followed by the Bonferroni–Sidak method for multiple comparisons: (c) Lung, IgM HA B220 **p = 0.0031, *p = 0.0243; (c) Lung, IgM NP B220 ****p = 0.0001, **p = 0.0040; (c) Lung, ISW HA B220 ***p = 0.0003, ###p = 0.0002; (c) Lung, ISW NP B220 ****p = 0.0001, **p = 0.0022; (d) Lung, IgM HA B220+/– **p = 0.0013, *p = 0.0158; (d) Lung, IgM NP B220+/– ****p = 0.0001, **p = 0.0017; (d) Lung, ISW HA B220+/– ****p = 0.0001, ***p = 0.0001; (d) Lung, ISW NP B220+/– ****P = 0.0001, **p = 0.0024; (g) mLN, IgM HA B220 p = 0.0618, p = 0.1136; (g) mLN, IgM NP B220 p = 0.0783, *p = 0.0183; (g) mLN, ISW HA B220 **p = 0.0014, ****p = 0.0001; (g) mLN, ISW NP B220 **p = 0.0079, ****p = 0.0001; (h) mLN, IgM HA B220+/– p = 0.0718, p = 0.1631; (h) mLN, IgM NP B220+/– p = 0.0746, *p = 0.0237; (h) mLN, ISW HA B220+/– **p = 0.0022, ****p = 0.0001; (h) mLN, ISW NP B220+/– **p = 0.0081, ***p = 0.0001; (k) Spleen, IgM HA B220 p = 0.2821, **p = 0.0039; (k) Spleen, IgM NP B220 *p = 0.0160, **p = 0.0012; (k) Spleen, ISW HA B220 p = 0.6749, p = 0.2475; (k) Spleen, ISW NP B220 *p = 0.0337, **p = 0.0028; (l) Spleen, IgM HA B220+/– p = 0.0662, *p = 0.0116; (l) Spleen, IgM NP B220+/– **p = 0.0078, *p = 0.0156; (l) Spleen, ISW HA B220+/– p = 0.4171, p = 0.1469; (l) Spleen, ISW NP B220+/– **p = 0.0029, *p = 0.0108; p < 0.05 is considered significant.

Supplementary Fig. 5 HA-specific BRM cells in the lung are generated from early CD40-dependent precursors.

(ad) Mice were infected with PR8 and administered anti-CD40L (MR1) or isotype control (CT) antibody every other day for 10 days starting on day 5 (a), day 10 (b), day 20 (c) or day 30 (d). Cells from the lung were gated on live, singlet lymphocyte, B220CD19+CD38+IgM+IgD IgM BRM cells or B220CD19+CD38+IgMIgD ISW BRM cells (Supplementary Fig. 1g). Data are representative of three experiments with five mice/group per timepoint. Graphs show mean ± SD as well as individual data points. Significance was determined using an unpaired, two-tailed t-test: ***p = 0.0009, ###p = 0.0006 (a), **p = 0.0090 (b), *p = 0.0219 (c). p < 0.05 is considered significant.

Supplementary Fig. 6 Poor recruitment of antigen-non-specific IgM memory cells to inflamed lungs.

(ag), Mice were peritoneally infected with PR8 on day 0, intranasally challenged with X31 on day 30 and analysed on day 40 (ad) and day 75 (eg). Cells from the lung were gated on live, singlet lymphocytes (Supplementary Fig. 1a) and subsequently gated on CD19+B220CD38+IgDIgM+ IgM memory B cells (a). NP-specific (b,e), HA(PR8)-specific (c,f) and HA(X31)-specific (d,g) IgM BRM cells were enumerated on day 40 (bd) and day 75 (eg). Graphs show individual data points as well as mean ± SD. These data are representative of two independent experiments with five mice/timepoint. Data were analysed with a one-sided unpaired t-test: ***p = 0.001 (b), ***p = 0.0098 (d), *p = 0.0205 (e). p < 0.05 is considered significant.

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Allie, S.R., Bradley, J.E., Mudunuru, U. et al. The establishment of resident memory B cells in the lung requires local antigen encounter. Nat Immunol 20, 97–108 (2019).

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