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Adv Immunol. 2007;95:1-50.

Fate decisions regulating bone marrow and peripheral B lymphocyte development.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


In adult mammals, bone marrow pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells generate B lymphoid-specified progeny that progress through a series of well-characterized stages before generating B-cell receptor expressing B lymphocytes. These functionally immature B lymphocytes then migrate to the spleen wherein they differentiate through transitional stages into follicular or marginal zone B lymphocytes capable of responding to T-dependent and -independent antigens, respectively. During the terminal stages of B lymphocyte development in the bone marrow, as well as immediately following egress into the peripheral compartments, B lymphocytes are counterselected to eliminate B lymphocytes with potentially dangerous self-reactivity. These developmental and selection events in the bone marrow and periphery are dependent on the integration of intrinsic genetic programs with extrinsic microenvironmental signals that drive progenitors toward increasing B lineage commitment and maturation. This chapter provides a comprehensive overview of the various stages of primary and secondary B lymphocyte development with an emphasis on the selection processes that affect decisions at critical checkpoints. Our intent is to stress the concept that at many steps in the developmental process leading to a mature immunocompetent B lymphocyte, B lineage cells are integrating multiple and different signaling inputs that are translated into specific and appropriate cell fate decisions.

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