Immunology

Keeping B cells in Suspense

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Science  12 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5502, pp. 211
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5502.211c

B lymphocytes found within germinal centers continue to divide without maturing into plasma cells, long after they encounter foreign antigen. By deferring maturation, these cells gain the opportunity to generate and select mutations in their antibody genes that increase the antibody's binding affinity for antigen. Reljik et al. examined the role played by the transcriptional repressor BCL-6 in delaying the terminal differentiation of germinal center B cells. Expression of BCL-6 blocked the activity of cytokines that would otherwise have slowed cell division and initiated maturation. These effects of BCL-6 appeared to be mediated via inhibition of the effect of signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT-3) on the transcription of B-lymphocyte-induced maturation protein-1 (Blimp-1), a protein which is known to be responsible for guiding B cells toward maturity. — SJS

J. Exp. Med.192, 1841 (2000).

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