Interrogating Individual Autoreactive Germinal Centers by Photoactivation in a Mixed Chimeric Model of Autoimmunity

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Autoimmune diseases present a significant health burden. Fundamental questions regarding the development and progression of autoimmune disease remain unanswered. One requirement for advancements in our understanding of the underlying disease mechanisms and cellular dynamics is the precise coupling of the microanatomical location of cell subsets with downstream molecular or functional analyses; a goal that has traditionally been difficult to achieve. The development of stable photoactivatable biological fluorophores and their integration into reporter strains has recently enabled precise microanatomical labeling and tracking of cellular subsets in murine models. Here, we describe how the ability to analyze autoreactive lymphocytes from single germinal centers may help to provide novel insights into autoimmunity, using the combination of a novel chimeric model of autoimmunity with a photoactivatable reporter as an example. We demonstrate a procedure for generating mixed chimeras with spontaneous autoreactive germinal centers populated by lymphocytes carrying a photoactivatable green fluorescent protein reporter. Using in vivo labeling strategies, single germinal centers can be visualized in explanted lymphoid tissues and their cellular constituents photoactivated by two-photon microscopy. Photoactivated lymphocytes from single germinal centers can then be analyzed or sorted flow cytometrically, as single cells or in bulk, and may be subjected to additional downstream molecular and functional analyses. This approach may directly be applied to provide renewed insights in the field of autoimmunity, but the procedure for generating bone marrow chimeras and the photoactivation procedure may additionally find broad application in studies of infectious diseases and tumor metastases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere59397
JournalJournal of visualized experiments : JoVE
Issue146
Number of pages11
ISSN1940-087X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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