Class-switch DNA recombination (CSR) and somatic hypermutation (SHM), which require activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), and plasma cell differentiation, which requires B lymphocyte-induced maturation protein-1 (Blimp-1), are critical for the generation of class-switched and hypermutated (mature) Ab and autoantibody responses. We show that histone deacetylase inhibitors valproic acid and butyrate dampened AICDA/Aicda (AID) and PRDM1/Prdm1 (Blimp-1) mRNAs by upregulating miR-155, miR-181b, and miR-361 to silence AICDA/Aicda, and miR-23b, miR-30a, and miR-125b to silence PRDM1/Prdm1, in human and mouse B cells. This led to downregulation of AID, Blimp-1, and X-box binding protein 1, thereby inhibiting CSR, SHM, and plasma cell differentiation without altering B cell viability or proliferation. The selectivity of histone deacetylase inhibitor-mediated silencing of AICDA/Aicda and PRDM1/Prdm1 was emphasized by unchanged expression of HoxC4 and Irf4 (important inducers/modulators of AICDA/Aicda), Rev1 and Ung (central elements for CSR/SHM), and Bcl6, Bach2, or Pax5 (repressors of PRDM1/Prdm1 expression), as well as unchanged expression of miR-19a/b, miR-20a, and miR-25, which are not known to regulate AICDA/Aicda or PRDM1/Prdm1. Through these B cell-intrinsic epigenetic mechanisms, valproic acid blunted class-switched and hypermutated T-dependent and T-independent Ab responses in C57BL/6 mice. In addition, it decreased class-switched and hypermutated autoantibodies, ameliorated disease, and extended survival in lupus MRL/Fas(lpr/lpr) mice. Our findings outline epigenetic mechanisms that modulate expression of an enzyme (AID) and transcription factors (Blimp-1 and X-box binding protein 1) that are critical to the B cell differentiation processes that underpin Ab and autoantibody responses. They also provide therapeutic proof-of-principle in autoantibody-mediated autoimmunity.
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