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J Immunol. 2007 Dec 1;179(11):7276-86.

Regulated expression of BAFF-binding receptors during human B cell differentiation.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Mayo Graduate School, Rochester MN 55905, USA.


BAFF plays a central role in B-lineage cell biology; however, the regulation of BAFF-binding receptor (BBR) expression during B cell activation and differentiation is not completely understood. In this study, we provide a comprehensive ex vivo analysis of BBRs in human B-lineage cells at various stages of maturation, as well as describe the events that drive and regulate receptor expression. Our data reveal that B-lineage cells ranging from naive to plasma cells (PCs), excluding bone marrow PCs, express BAFF-R uniformly. In contrast, only tonsillar memory B cells (MB) and PCs, from both tonsil and bone marrow tissues, express BCMA. Furthermore, we show that TACI is expressed by MB cells and PCs, as well as a subpopulation of activated CD27(neg) B cells. In this regard, we demonstrate that TACI is inducible early upon B cell activation and this is independent of B cell turnover. In addition, we found that TACI expression requires activation of the ERK1/2 pathway, since its expression was blocked by ERK1/2-specific inhibitors. Expression of BAFF-R and B cell maturation Ag (BCMA) is also highly regulated and we demonstrate that BCMA expression is only acquired in MB cells and in a manner accompanied by loss of BAFF-R expression. This inverse expression coincides with MB cell differentiation into Ig-secreting cells (ISC), since blocking differentiation inhibited both induction of BCMA expression and loss of BAFF-R. Collectively, our data suggest that the BBR profile may serve as a footprint of the activation history and stage of differentiation of normal human B cells.

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