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J Immunol. 2001 Sep 15;167(6):3190-200.

CD19 can regulate B lymphocyte signal transduction independent of complement activation.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


B lymphocytes are critically regulated by signals transduced through the CD19-CD21 cell surface receptor complex, where complement C3d binding to CD21 supplies an already characterized ligand. To determine the extent that CD19 function is controlled by complement activation, CD19-deficient mice (that are hyporesponsive to transmembrane signals) and mice overexpressing CD19 (that are hyperresponsive) were crossed with CD21- and C3-deficient mice. Cell surface CD19 and CD21 expression were significantly affected by the loss of CD21 and C3 expression, respectively. Mature B cells from CD21-deficient littermates had approximately 36% higher cell surface CD19 expression, whereas CD21/35 expression was increased by approximately 45% on B cells from C3-deficient mice. Negative regulation of CD19 and CD21 expression by CD21 and C3, respectively, may be functionally significant because small increases in cell surface CD19 overexpression can predispose to autoimmunity. Otherwise, B cell development and function in CD19-deficient and -overexpressing mice were not significantly affected by a simultaneous loss of CD21 expression. Although CD21-deficient mice were found to express a hypomorphic cell surface CD21 protein at low levels that associated with mouse CD19, C3 deficiency did not significantly affect B cell development and function in CD19-deficient or -overexpressing mice. These results, and the severe phenotype exhibited by CD19-deficient mice compared with CD21- or C3-deficient mice, collectively demonstrate that CD19 can regulate B cell signaling thresholds independent of CD21 engagement and complement activation.

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