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J Exp Med. 2006 Feb 20;203(2):393-400. Epub 2006 Jan 30.

A checkpoint for autoreactivity in human IgM+ memory B cell development.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Autoantibodies are removed from the repertoire at two checkpoints during B cell development in the bone marrow and the periphery. Despite these checkpoints, up to 20% of the antibodies expressed by mature naive B cells in healthy humans show low levels of self-reactivity. To determine whether self-reactive antibodies are also part of the antigen-experienced memory B cell compartment, we analyzed recombinant antibodies cloned from single circulating human IgM+ memory B cells. Cells expressing antibodies specific for individual bacterial polysaccharides were expanded in the IgM+ memory compartment. In contrast, B cells expressing self-reactive and broadly bacterially reactive antibodies were removed from the repertoire in the transition from naive to IgM+ memory B cell. Selection against self-reactive antibodies was implemented before the onset of somatic hypermutation. We conclude that a third checkpoint selects against self-reactivity during IgM+ memory B cell development in humans.

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