The endoplasmic reticulum-resident E3 ubiquitin ligase Hrd1 controls a critical checkpoint in B cell development in mice.
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Humoral immunity involves multiple checkpoints that occur in B cell development, maturation, and activation. The pre-B-cell receptor (pre-BCR) is expressed following the productive recombination of the immunoglobulin heavy-chain gene, and sSignalsing through the pre-BCR are required for the differentiation of pre-B cells into immature B cells. However, the molecular mechanisms controlling the pre-BCR expression and signaling strength remain undefined. Herein, we probed the role of the endoplasmic reticulum-associated, stress-activated E3 ubiquitin ligase HMG-CoA reductase degradation 1 (Hrd1) in B cell differentiation. Using mice with a specific Hrd1 deletion in pro-B cells and subsequent B cell developmental stages, we showed that the E3 ubiquitin ligase Hrd1 governs a critical checkpoint during B cell development. We observed that Hrd1 is required for degradation of the pre-BCR complex during the early stage of B cell development. As a consequence, loss of Hrd1 in the B cell lineage resulted in increased pre-BCR expression levels and a developmental defect in the transition from large to small pre-B cells. This defect, in turn, resulted in reduced fewer mature B cells in bone marrow and peripheral lymphoid organs. Our results revealed a novel critical role of Hrd1 in controlling a critical checkpoint in B cell-mediated immunity and suggest that Hrd1 may functioning as an E3 ubiquitin ligase of the pre-BCR complex.