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J Leukoc Biol. 2013 Nov;94(5):991-1001. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0113048. Epub 2013 Jul 30.

The human fetal lymphocyte lineage: identification by CD27 and LIN28B expression in B cell progenitors.

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  • 12.DUMC, Durham, NC 27710;; M.K., E-mail:


CD27, a member of the TNFR superfamily, is used to identify human memory B cells. Nonetheless, CD27(+) B cells are present in patients with HIGM1 syndrome who are unable to generate GCs or memory B cells. CD27(+)IgD(+) fetal B cells are present in umbilical cord blood, and CD27 may also be a marker of the human B1-like B cells. To define the origin of naïve CD27(+)IgD(+) human B cells, we studied B cell development in both fetal and adult tissues. In human FL, most CD19(+) cells coexpressed CD10, a marker of human developing B cells. Some CD19(+)CD10(+) B cells expressed CD27, and these fetal CD27(+) cells were present in the pro-B, pre-B, and immature/transitional B cell compartments. Lower frequencies of phenotypically identical cells were also identified in adult BM. CD27(+) pro-B, pre-B, and immature/transitional B cells expressed recombination activating gene-1, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase and Vpre-B mRNA comparably to their CD27(-) counterparts. CD27(+) and CD27(-) developing B cells showed similar Ig heavy chain gene usage with low levels of mutations, suggesting that CD27(+) developing B cells are distinct from mutated memory B cells. Despite these similarities, CD27(+) developing B cells differed from CD27(-) developing B cells by their increased expression of LIN28B, a transcription factor associated with the fetal lymphoid lineages of mice. Furthermore, CD27(+) pro-B cells efficiently generated IgM(+)IgD(+) immature/transitional B cells in vitro. Our observations suggest that CD27 expression during B cell development identifies a physiologic state or lineage for human B cell development distinct from the memory B cell compartment.


B cell development; human fetal liver

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