GARP, a cell surface docking receptor for binding and activating latent TGF-β, is highly expressed by platelets and activated Tregs. While GARP is implicated in immune invasion in cancer, the roles of the GARP-TGF-β axis in systemic autoimmune diseases are unknown. Although B cells do not express GARP at baseline, we found that the GARP-TGF-β complex is induced on activated human and mouse B cells by ligands for multiple TLRs, including TLR4, TLR7, and TLR9. GARP overexpression on B cells inhibited their proliferation, induced IgA class-switching, and dampened T cell–independent antibody production. In contrast, B cell–specific deletion of GARP-encoding gene Lrrc32 in mice led to development of systemic autoimmune diseases spontaneously as well as worsening of pristane-induced lupus-like disease. Canonical TGF-β signaling more readily upregulates GARP in Peyer patch B cells than in splenic B cells. Furthermore, we demonstrated that B cells are required for the induction of oral tolerance of T cell–dependent antigens via GARP. Our studies reveal for the first time to our knowledge that cell surface GARP-TGF-β is an important checkpoint for regulating B cell peripheral tolerance, highlighting a mechanism of autoimmune disease pathogenesis.


Caroline H. Wallace, Bill X. Wu, Mohammad Salem, Ephraim A. Ansa-Addo, Alessandra Metelli, Shaoli Sun, Gary Gilkeson, Mark J. Shlomchik, Bei Liu, Zihai Li


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