Longitudinal Dynamics of Human B-Cell Response at the Single-Cell Level in Response to Tdap Vaccination

Indu Khatri, Annieck M. Diks, Erik B. van den Akker, Liesbeth E. M. Oosten, Jaap Jan Zwaginga, Marcel J.T. Reinders, Jacques J. M. van Dongen, Magdalena A. Berkowska

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To mount an adequate immune response against pathogens, stepwise mutation and selection processes are crucial functions of the adaptive immune system. To better characterize a successful vaccination response, we performed longitudinal (days 0, 5, 7, 10, and 14 after Boostrix vaccination) analysis of the single-cell transcriptome as well as the B-cell receptor (BCR) repertoire (scBCR-rep) in plasma cells of an immunized donor and compared it with baseline B-cell characteristics as well as flow cytometry findings. Based on the flow cytometry knowledge and literature findings, we discriminated individual B-cell subsets in the transcriptomics data and traced over-time maturation of plasmablasts/plasma cells (PB/PCs) and identified the pathways associated with the plasma cell maturation. We observed that the repertoire in PB/PCs differed from the baseline B-cell repertoire e.g., regarding expansion of unique clones in post-vaccination visits, high usage of IGHG1 in expanded clones, increased class-switching events post-vaccination represented by clonotypes spanning multiple IGHC classes and positive selection of CDR3 sequences over time. Importantly, the Variable gene family-based clustering of BCRs represented a similar measure as the gene-based clustering, but certainly improved the clustering of BCRs, as BCRs from duplicated Variable gene families could be clustered together. Finally, we developed a query tool to dissect the immune response to the components of the Boostrix vaccine. Using this tool, we could identify the BCRs related to anti-tetanus and anti-pertussis toxoid BCRs. Collectively, we developed a bioinformatic workflow which allows description of the key features of an ongoing (longitudinal) immune response, such as activation of PB/PCs, Ig class switching, somatic hypermutation, and clonal expansion, all of which are hallmarks of antigen exposure, followed by mutation & selection processes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1352
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • B‐cell receptor repertoire
  • Tdap vaccine
  • pertussis
  • single cell
  • vaccination


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