Making a Mark on Memory

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Science  01 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5556, pp. 769
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5556.769a

B cells generate distinct classes of antibody, which execute specific functions in different types of immune response. Changes in these secreted antibody [immunoglobulin (Ig)] isotypes are matched by the membrane-bound versions of the same antibodies, which form B cell receptors. In secondary (memory) responses to antigen, early IgM antibodies are replaced by IgG antibodies, which dominate in memory B cell pools.

Martin and Goodnow now show that a component in the membrane-associated tail of the IgG protein directly affects secondary B cell responses. Replacing the tail of IgM with that of IgG led to increased antibody production in antigen-specific Ig-transgenic mice. These elevated levels of antibody resulted from an increase in the number of antibody-secreting cells in areas of lymphoid tissue that normally host secondary B cell responses. Increases were due to increased survival of B cells after activation, rather than increased cell division. Thus, the membrane tail of the IgG protein confers specific cell survival signals that may contribute to IgG dominance in B cell memory. — SJS

Nature Immunol. 10.1038/ni752.

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