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Nature. 1991 Sep 5;353(6339):71-3.

Bcl-2 maintains B cell memory.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri 63110.


The number of lymphocytes in an animal is remarkably constant despite antigen-driven proliferation and a high rate of B-cell lymphopoiesis. This reflects the relatively brief lifespan of many newly generated B cells and argues for a well-regulated death mechanism. Even so, a secondary immune response can be generated years after a primary exposure to antigen. Antigen that might restimulate B cells persists for extended periods on follicular dendritic cells in the light zone of germinal centres. Antigen-binding B cells have also been found months after the end of obvious cell division. The precise signal that enables certain B cells to emerge as long-term surviving memory cells is unknown. Bcl-2, an inner mitochondrial membrane protein, blocks programmed cell death in B cells. We report here that this proto-oncogene maintains immune responsiveness. Transgenic mice overproducing Bcl-2 have a long-term persistence of immunoglobulin-secreting cells and an extended lifetime for memory B cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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