First published December 6, 2018 - More info
ARHGEF1 is a RhoA-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor expressed in hematopoietic cells. We used whole-exome sequencing to identify compound heterozygous mutations in ARHGEF1, resulting in the loss of ARHGEF1 protein expression in two primary-antibody-deficient siblings presenting with recurrent severe respiratory tract infections and bronchiectasis. Both ARHGEF1-deficient patients showed an abnormal B cell immunophenotype, with a deficiency in marginal-zone and memory B cells and an increased frequency of transitional B cells. Furthermore, the patients’ blood contained immature myeloid cells. Analysis of a mediastinal lymph node from one patient highlighted the small size of the germinal centres and an abnormally high plasma cell content. On the molecular level, T and B lymphocytes from both patients displayed low RhoA activity and low steady-state actin polymerization (even after stimulation of lysophospholipid receptors). As a consequence of disturbed regulation of the RhoA downstream target ROCK, the patients’ lymphocytes failed to efficiently restrain AKT phosphorylation. Enforced ARHGEF1 expression or drug-induced activation of RhoA in patients’ cells corrected the impaired actin polymerization and AKT regulation. Our results indicate that ARHGEF1 activity in human lymphocytes is involved in controlling actin cytoskeleton dynamics, restraining PI3K/AKT signalling, and confining B lymphocytes and myelocytes within their dedicated functional environment.