Characterization of Organ-Specific Regulatory B Cells Using Single-Cell RNA Sequencing

Si Yu Yang, Jie Long, Meng Xing Huang, Pan Yue Luo, Zhen Hua Bian, Ya Fei Xu, Cheng Bo Wang, Shu Han Yang, Liang Li, Carlo F Selmi, M. Eric Gershwin, Zhi Bin Zhao, Zhe Xiong Lian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Regulatory B cells (Breg) are considered as immunosuppressive cells. Different subsets of Breg cells have been identified both in human beings and in mice. However, there is a lack of unique markers to identify Breg cells, and the heterogeneity of Breg cells in different organs needs to be further illuminated. In this study, we performed high-throughput single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) and single-cell B-cell receptor sequencing (scBCR-seq) of B cells from the murine spleen, liver, mesenteric lymph nodes, bone marrow, and peritoneal cavity to better define the phenotype of these cells. Breg cells were identified based on the expression of immunosuppressive genes and IL-10-producing B (B10) cell-related genes, to define B10 and non-B10 subsets in Breg cells based on the score of the B10 gene signatures. Moreover, we characterized 19 common genes significantly expressed in Breg cells, including Fcrl5, Zbtb20, Ccdc28b, Cd9, and Ptpn22, and further analyzed the transcription factor activity in defined Breg cells. Last, a BCR analysis was used to determine the clonally expanded clusters and the relationship of Breg cells across different organs. We demonstrated that Atf3 may potentially modulate the function of Breg cells as a transcription factor and that seven organ-specific subsets of Breg cells are found. Depending on gene expression and functional modules, non-B10 Breg cells exhibited activated the TGF-β pathway, thus suggesting that non-B10 Breg cells have specific immunosuppressive properties different from conventional B10 cells. In conclusion, our work provides new insights into Breg cells and illustrates their transcriptional profiles and BCR repertoire in different organs under physiological conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number711980
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Sep 14 2021


  • B10 cells
  • BCR
  • Breg cells
  • scRNA-Seq
  • transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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