These can be further subdivided into B1a and B1b, where the major

These can be further subdivided into B1a and B1b, where the majority of B1a B cells stem from the fetal liver, and the B2 cells into follicular (FO) and marginal zone (MZ) B cells. B1 and MZ B cells are a source of natural antibodies and respond to T cell–independent (Ti) antigens. The dominating subset in blood, spleen and lymph nodes is FO

B cells that mainly respond to T cell–dependent (Td) antigens. After the B cells become activated, they can differentiate into memory cells and/or antibody-secreting plasma cells. Upon activation, FO B cells together with follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) and follicular T helper (TFH) cells form germinal centres (GC), secondary structures that are located within B cell follicles [2, 3]. FDCs trap and retain antigen on their surface in the form of immune complexes [4], and TFH cells have been found to provide the B cell with differentiation signals via cognate interactions [5-8]. GCs also support BCR modifications, that is, class switch recombination (CSR) and somatic hypermutation (SHM), processes that require the activation induced deaminase (AID) enzyme [9]. The GC can be divided into two zones, a dark zone where B cells undergo clonal expansion and a light zone where B cells undergo selection based on their ability to interact with FDCs and T helper

cells [3, 10, 11]. As B cells leave the GCs, they differentiate into either memory B cells or antibody-producing plasma cells, expressing BCRs that may have undergone affinity maturation due to SHM and/or a change in effector function as a result of CSR. In humans, selleck screening library the proportion of memory B cells is much higher than that in mice, at least those kept under specific pathogen-free conditions, and human memory B cells have been predominantly characterized as cells expressing CD27, a marker for antigen-experienced cells [12]. Among human CD27+ B cells, there exist both IgM and isotype-switched cells that have undergone SHM [12, 13]. In addition, memory B cells

that lack expression of CD27 have been described [14]. The observation that CD27 is not an appropriate marker for memory B cells in mice [15, 16], and due to the paucity of memory B cells [17, 18], it has been technically difficult Oxymatrine to carefully study these. To circumvent this problem, many studies have relied on the use of hybridomas and transgenic (TG) mice expressing a particular antibody H chain, either alone or in combination with a defined L chain, resulting in a high frequency of B cells expressing a BCR with a predefined antigen specificity. Introduction of such constructs into the Ig H (and L) chain locus (knock-in) also allows CSR and hence the possibility to study B cells expressing isotype-switched antigen-specific BCRs. Classically, memory B cells have been defined as progenies of GC B cells expressing isotype-switched and substantially mutated BCRs.

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