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Nature. 2001 Oct 11;413(6856):639-43.

In situ class switching and differentiation to IgA-producing cells in the gut lamina propria.

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Department of Medical Chemistry, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Yoshida Konoe-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8501, Japan.


One of the front lines of the immune defence is the gut mucosa, where immunoglobulin- (IgA) is continuously produced to react with commensal bacteria and dietary antigens. It is generally accepted that, after antigenic stimulation in the Peyer's patches, IgA+ lymphoblasts (B220+IgA+) migrate through the lymph and blood circulation, and eventually home to the lamina propria of the intestine. Mice that lack activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) are defective in class switch recombination (CSR) and somatic hypermutation. CSR changes the immunoglobulin heavy chain constant region (CH) gene being expressed from Cmu to other CH genes, resulting in a switch of the immunoglobulin isotype from IgM to IgG, IgE or IgA. AID-/- mice also secrete large amounts of immunoglobulin-mu (IgM) into faeces, and accumulate B220-IgM+ plasma cells as well as B220+IgM+ cells in the gut. Here we show that lamina propria B220+IgA+ cells have just completed CSR, as they still express both AID and transcripts from circular DNA that has been 'looped-out' during CSR. Lamina propria IgM+ B cells seem to be pre-committed to switching to IgA+ in vitro as well as in vivo. Culturing lamina propria IgM+ B cells together with lamina propria stromal cells enhances preferential switching and differentiation of B cells to IgA+ plasma cells. We conclude that IgA+ cells in the gut lamina propria are generated in situ from B220+IgM+ lymphocytes.

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