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Annu Rev Immunol. 2003;21:205-30. Epub 2001 Dec 19.

Regulatory mechanisms that determine the development and function of plasma cells.

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1
Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York 10032, USA. klc1@columbia.edu

Abstract

Plasma cells are terminally differentiated final effectors of the humoral immune response. Plasma cells that result from antigen activation of B-1 and marginal zone B cells provide the first, rapid response to antigen. Plasma cells that develop after a germinal center reaction provide higher-affinity antibody and often survive many months in the bone marrow. Transcription factors Bcl-6 and Pax5, which are required for germinal center B cells, block plasmacytic differentiation and repress Blimp-1 and XBP-1, respectively. When Bcl-6-dependent repression of Blimp-1 is relieved, Blimp-1 ensures that plasmacytic development is irreversible by repressing BCL-6 and PAX5. In plasma cells, Blimp-1, XBP-1, IRF4, and other regulators cause cessation of cell cycle, decrease signaling from the B cell receptor and communication with T cells, inhibit isotype switching and somatic hypermutation, downregulate CXCR5, and induce copious immunoglobulin synthesis and secretion. Thus, commitment to plasmacytic differentiation involves inhibition of activities associated with earlier B cell developmental stages as well as expression of the plasma cell phenotype.

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