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Histone deacetylase 3 (Hdac3) is a target of the FDA approved HDAC inhibitors, which are used for the treatment of lymphoid malignancies. Here, we used Cd19-Cre to conditionally delete Hdac3 to define its role in germinal center B cells, which represent the cell of origin for many B cell malignancies. Cd19-Cre-Hdac3-/- mice showed impaired germinal center formation along with a defect in plasmablast production. Analysis of Hdac3-/- germinal centers revealed a reduction in dark zone centroblasts and accumulation of light zone centrocytes. RNA-seq revealed a significant correlation between genes up-regulated upon Hdac3 loss and those up-regulated in Foxo1-deleted germinal center B cells, even though Foxo1 typically activates transcription. Therefore, to determine whether gene expression changes observed in Hdac3-/- germinal centers were a result of direct effects of Hdac3 deacetylase activity, we used an HDAC3 selective inhibitor and examined nascent transcription in germinal center-derived cell lines. Transcriptional changes upon HDAC3 inhibition were enriched for light zone gene signatures as observed in germinal centers. Further comparison of PRO-seq data with ChIP-seq/exo data for BCL6, SMRT, FOXO1 and H3K27ac identified direct targets of HDAC3 function including CD86, CD83 and CXCR5 that are likely responsible for driving the light zone phenotype observed in vivo.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.