B-cells are antibody-producing cells of the adaptive immune system. Approximately 75% of all newly generated B-cells in the bone marrow are autoreactive and express potentially harmful autoantibodies. To prevent autoimmune disease, the immune system has evolved a powerful mechanism to eliminate autoreactive B-cells, termed negative B-cell selection. While designed to remove autoreactive clones during early B-cell development, our laboratory recently discovered that transformed B-cells in leukemia and lymphoma are also subject to negative selection. Indeed, besides the risk of developing autoimmune disease, B-cells are inherently prone to malignant transformation: to produce high-affinity antibodies, B-cells undergo multiple rounds of somatic immunoglobulin gene recombination and hypermutation. Reflecting high frequencies of DNA-breaks, adaptive immune protection by B-cells comes with a dramatically increased risk of development of leukemia and lymphoma. Of note, B-cells exist under conditions of chronic restriction of energy metabolism. Here we discuss how these metabolic gatekeeper functions during B-cell development provide a common mechanism for the removal of autoreactive and premalignant B-cells to safeguard against both autoimmune diseases and B-cell malignancies.

You do not currently have access to this content.