Repulsive behavior in germinal centers

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Science  19 May 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6339, pp. 703-704
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan5222

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Protective, high-affinity antibodies are a crucial component of immune defense against pathogens. They are produced by plasma cells that originate from antigen-specific B cells, which get activated and selected in the germinal centers (GCs) of lymph nodes. Despite advances in our understanding of GC biology in recent years—facilitated in particular by the use of two-photon microscopy—several aspects of the spatiotemporal dynamics of cellular interaction in the GC are still unclear. On page 716 of this issue, Lu et al. (1) recognize a role for the cell surface protein ephrin B1 in regulating the longevity of interactions between B cells and follicular T helper (TFH) cells in GCs. This may control T cell homeostasis in GCs as well as support the selection of high-affinity antibody-producing plasma cells.