Follicular dendritic cells (FDC) are an important subset of stromal cells within the germinal centres of lymphoid tissues. They are specialized to trap and retain antigen-containing immune complexes on their surfaces to promote B-cell maturation and immunoglobulin isotype class-switching. However, little is known of the cell types from which FDC originate. To address fundamental questions associated with the relationships between FDC and other cell populations, we took advantage of the growing body of publicly available data for transcriptome analysis. We obtained a large number of gene expression data files from a range of different primary mouse cells and cell lines and subjected these data to network-based cluster analysis using BiolayoutExpress(3D) . Genes with related function clustered together in distinct regions of the graph and enabled the identification of transcriptional networks that underpin the functional activity of distinct cell populations. Several gene clusters were identified that were selectively expressed by cells of mesenchymal lineage and contained classic mesenchymal cell markers and extracellular matrix genes including various collagens, Acta2, Bgn, Fbn1 and Twist1. Our analysis showed that FDC also express highly many of these mesenchyme-associated genes. Promoter analysis of the genes comprising the mesenchymal clusters identified several regulatory motifs that are binding sites for candidate transcription factors previously known to be candidate regulators of mesenchyme-specific genes. Together, these data suggest FDC are a specialized mesenchymal cell population within the germinal centres of lymphoid tissues.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy