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Immunity. 2007 Feb;26(2):191-203. Epub 2007 Feb 8.

Unique maturation program of the IgE response in vivo.

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Program of Molecular Pathogenesis, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA.


A key event in the pathogenesis of asthma and allergies is the production of IgE antibodies. We show here that IgE(+) cells were exceptional because they were largely found outside germinal centers and expressed, from very early on, a genetic program of plasma cells. In spite of their extragerminal center localization, IgE(+) cells showed signs of somatic hypermutation and affinity maturation. We demonstrated that high-affinity IgE(+) cells could be generated through a unique differentiation program that involved two phases: a pre-IgE phase in which somatic hypermutation and affinity maturation take place in IgG1(+) cells, and a post-IgE-switching phase in which IgE cells differentiate swiftly into plasma cells. Our results have implications for the understanding of IgE memory responses in allergy.

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