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Immunol Rev. 1988 Dec;106:149-80.

Antigen-presenting function of B lymphocytes.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208.


Here we review our current results studying B cells as APC and the mechanisms by which processed antigen is transported to and held on the cell surface for recognition by the specific T cell along with the MHC class II molecules. These studies were carried out using the globular protein cytochrome c as antigen for which the T-cell antigenic determinant was localized to a C-terminal 10-amino acid peptide fragment. For certain analyses, native cytochrome c or antigenic peptide fragments were covalently coupled to antibodies directed toward B-cell surface structures, allowing the targeting of antigen to the APC surface. Our findings indicate that all B cells function as APC and that the APC function is not differentially regulated in defined B-cell subpopulations. Using cytochrome c-antibody conjugates, it was shown that the surface Ig plays two significant roles in augmenting the B-cell APC function following antigen binding: signalling for enhanced APC function and concentrating antigen for subsequent internalization and processing. Both IgM and IgD appear to function identically in facilitating antigen processing in both immune and nonimmune B-cell populations. Furthermore, the surface Ig does not appear to be specially differentiated to function in concentrating antigen, as antigen artificially bound to other B-cell surface structures including MHC class I and class II molecules is also effectively presented. Lastly, evidence is presented that a previously described B-cell activating factor activity is strongly associated with the membranes of activated but not unactivated helper T cells, providing a mechanism by which the T-cell helper function can be focused on the specific antigen-presenting B cell. Concerning the mechanism by which processed antigen is presented at the B-cell surface, evidence is presented suggesting a role of peptide-binding chaperone proteins which may function to transport peptide to the APC surface and facilitate its association with the appropriate Ia. One candidate protein, PBP72/74, is described which binds peptides but not native antigens, is a member of the hsp70 family and appears to play a role in antigen presentation by the ability of antisera raised against it to block APC functions. Peptide-antibody conjugates were used to explore the spacial restrictions on MHC-restricted peptide presentation and it was shown that peptides covalently coupled to antibodies specific for Ig, class I or class II molecules are effective antigens in vitro even in the absence of processing.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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