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Immunity. 2007 Aug;27(2):190-202.

Germinal-center organization and cellular dynamics.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0414, USA.


Germinal centers (GCs) are important sites of antibody affinity maturation. In the classical model, the GC dark zone contains large centroblasts that are rapidly proliferating and undergoing somatic hypermutation of their antibody variable-region genes. Centroblasts give rise to smaller nonproliferating centrocytes in the light zone that compete for binding antigen on follicular dendritic cells. Recently, the approach of real-time imaging of GCs by two-photon microscopy of intact lymph nodes has provided new insights into GC dynamics that both support and challenge fundamental aspects of this model. Here we review recent and older findings on cell migration, proliferation, and interaction dynamics in the GC and discuss a model in which dark- and light-zone cells are morphologically similar, proliferation occurs in both zones, and GC B cells compete for T cell help as well as antigen.

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