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J Exp Med. 1998 Aug 17;188(4):765-72.

Antigen receptor engagement turns off the V(D)J recombination machinery in human tonsil B cells.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, The Rockefeller University, New York 10021-6399, USA.


The germinal center (GC) is an anatomic compartment found in peripheral lymphoid organs, wherein B cells undergo clonal expansion, somatic mutation, switch recombination, and reactivate immunoglobulin gene V(D)J recombination. As a result of somatic mutation, some GC B cells develop higher affinity antibodies, whereas others suffer mutations that decrease affinity, and still others may become self-reactive. It has been proposed that secondary V(D)J rearrangements in GCs might rescue B cells whose receptors are damaged by somatic mutations. Here we present evidence that mature human tonsil B cells coexpress conventional light chains and recombination associated genes, and that they extinguish recombination activating gene and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase expression when their receptors are cross-linked. Thus, the response of the recombinase to receptor engagement in peripheral B cells is the opposite of the response in developing B cells to the same stimulus. These observations suggest that receptor revision is a mechanism for receptor diversification that is turned off when antigen receptors are cross-linked by the cognate antigen.

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