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Int Immunol. 2002 Feb;14(2):177-87.

BCR signal through alpha 4 is involved in S6 kinase activation and required for B cell maturation including isotype switching and V region somatic hypermutation.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Kumamoto University School of Medicine, 2-2-1 Honjo, Kumamoto 860-0811, Japan.


alpha 4 potentially mediates BCR signals through a rapamycin-sensitive TOR pathway. To investigate a potential role for alpha 4 in B cell activation, the alpha 4 gene was disrupted conditionally in B cells by mating male CD19-Cre mice with female alpha 4-floxed mice. CD19-Cre+/alpha 4flox mice showed loss of alpha 4 protein in B lineage cells and a decreased number of phenotypically normal mature B cells. Compared to normal B cells, alpha 4(-) B cells showed a decreased proliferation in response to the B cell stimulants (anti-IgM antibody plus IL-4, anti-CD40 mAb and lipopolysaccharide), and a reduced S6 kinase activation and rapamycin sensitivity. While CD19-Cre+/alpha 4flox mice showed impaired antibody responses to both T cell-independent and T cell-dependent (TD) antigens, the TD antigen response was markedly impaired as demonstrated by reduced isotype switching, reduced germinal center formation and reduced V region somatic hypermutation. These results show that alpha 4 plays a pivotal role in antigen-specific signal transduction during B cell activation and differentiation in vivo.

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