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Springer Semin Immunopathol. 2005 Mar;26(4):463-84.

B cell superantigens: a microbe's answer to innate-like B cells and natural antibodies.

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Rheumatic Disease Core Center, Department of Medicine, University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0663, USA.


Marginal zone B cells and B-1 cells have been termed innate-like B cells as they express limited repertoires that play special roles in immune defenses against common infections. These B cells are the sources of natural antibodies and are capable of highly accelerated clonal responses that help counter blood-borne infections. We have characterized a class of microbial product with highly adapted binding interactions with host immunoglobulins/B cell receptors (BCRs), which enable the targeting of large supra-clonal sets of B cells for activation-associated apoptotic death. In recent studies, we have shown that all B cells with V region-targeted BCRs are susceptible. However, compared to follicular B cells, in vivo exposure preferentially causes innate-like B cells to undergo induced death with subsequent long-lasting supra-clonal depletion and immune tolerance. Based on these properties, it is likely that B cell superantigens influence the pathogenesis of some common infections, but also may provide novel therapeutic opportunities to treat B cell neoplastic and autoimmune diseases.

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