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Immunity. 2000 Jul;13(1):5-14.

Monomeric and oligomeric complexes of the B cell antigen receptor.

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Department of Molecular Immunology, University of Freiburg and Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology, Germany.


The current structural model of the B cell antigen receptor (BCR) describes it as a symmetric protein complex in which one membrane-bound immunoglobulin molecule (mIg) is noncovalently bound on each side by an Ig-alpha/Ig-beta heterodimer. Using peptide-tagged Ig-alpha proteins, blue native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (BN-PAGE), and biosynthetical labeling of B cells, we find that the mIg:Ig-alpha/Ig-beta complex has a stoichiometry of 1:1 and not 1:2. An anti-Flag stimulation of B cells coexpressing Flag-tagged and wild-type Ig-alpha proteins results in the phosphorylation of both Ig-alpha proteins, suggesting that on the surface of living B cells, several BCR monomers are in contact with each other. A BN-PAGE analysis after limited detergent lysis provides further evidence for an oligomeric BCR structure.

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