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Nat Immunol. 2002 Jun;3(6):570-5. Epub 2002 May 20.

Role of BCR affinity in T cell dependent antibody responses in vivo.

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Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, The Rockefeller University New York, NY 10021, USA.


Antibody affinity for antigen is believed to govern B lymphocyte selection during T-dependent immune responses. To examine antibody affinity in T cell dependent immune responses, we compared mice that carry targeted V(H)B1-8 antibody genes with high or low antigen-binding affinity. We found that high- and low-affinity B cells had the same intrinsic capacity to respond to antigen, but in experiments where limiting numbers of high- and low-affinity B cells were mixed in wild-type recipient mice, only the high-affinity B cells accumulated in germinal centers (GCs). In GCs, high-affinity B cells accumulated fewer V(H) somatic mutations than low affinity B cells. This effect was due to selections as the frequency of mutation in noncoding immunoglobulin gene DNA is the same in high- and low- affinity B cells. Thus, B cells recruited to the GC appeared to undergo a fixed mutation program, regardless of initial B cell receptor affinity. We conclude that in addition to the selection that occurs in GCs, stringent selection for high-affinity clones is also imposed in the early stages of the T cell dependent immune response in vivo.

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