Lymphocyte surface immunoglobulins

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Science  03 Oct 1975:
Vol. 190, Issue 4209, pp. 20-29
DOI: 10.1126/science.1101378


Immunoglobulins have been isolated from the surface of B (bone marrow-derived) and T (thymus-derived) lymphocytes. Two types of membrane immunoglobulin occur on B lymphocytes; one type resembles the 200,000-dalton subunit of IgM, the second possesses a heavy chain electrophoretically distinct from mu chain and does not correspond to any of the known classes of mouse immunoglobulins. It might correspond to human sigma chain. T lymphocytes possess only one type of surface immunoglobulin. This molecule has a mass of approximately 200,000 daltons and contains light chains and heavy chains similar to, but not identical to, mu chains. Evidence now exists that surface IgM-like immunoglobulins of B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes activated to certain antigens can bind specifically to antigen. These observations suggest that surface immunoglobulin functions as a receptor for antigen on B cells and at least on some T cells. The mechanisms by which combination of antigen with surface immunoglobulin initiate differentiation remain to be determined.