A role for DRAK2 in the germinal center reaction and the antibody response

Ahmed Al-Qahtani, Zhenming Xu, Hong Zan, Craig Walsh, Paolo Casali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


DAP-related apoptotic kinase-2 (DRAK2), a death-associated protein kinase family member, is highly expressed in B and T lymphocytes in the human and the mouse. To determine whether DRAK2 plays a role in B-cell activation and differentiation, we analyzed germinal centers (GCs) and the specific antibody response to NP in drak2-/- mice immunized with the thymus-dependent (TD) conjugated hapten NP16-CGG. In drak2-/- mice, spleen GCs were normal in size and morphology, but their number was reduced by as much as 5-fold, as compared to their wild-type littermates. This was not due to a defect in B-cell proliferation, as the BrdU uptake was comparable in DRAK2-deficient and wild-type B cells. Rather, the proportion of apoptotic GC B and T cells in drak2-/- mice was significantly higher than that in wild-type control mice, as shown by 7-AAD and terminal deoxynucleotide transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining. In drak2-/- mice, the generation high affinity IgG antibodies was impaired in spite of the seemingly normal somatic hypermutation and class switch DNA recombination machineries in drak2-/- B cells. In NP16-CGG-immunized drak2-/- mice, T-cell-intrinsic Bcl-xL transgene expression increased the number of GCs and rescued the high affinity IgG response to NP. These findings suggest a novel role for DRAK2 in regulating the GC reaction and the response to TD antigens, perhaps through increased survival of T cells and enhanced B-cell positive selection. They also suggest that DRAK2-deficiency is not involved in regulating intrinsic B-cell apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-352
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibodies
  • B cells
  • Molecular biology
  • Spleen and germinal centers
  • Transgenic/knockout mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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