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J Immunol. 2009 Jul 1;183(1):518-23. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0900068.

Generation of protective T cell-independent antiviral antibody responses in SCID mice reconstituted with follicular or marginal zone B cells.

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Department of Pathology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, 01655, USA.


B cells generated in the bone marrow of adult mice enter the periphery as transitional B cells and subsequently differentiate into one of two phenotypically and functionally distinct subsets, marginal zone (MZ) or follicular (Fo) B cells. Recent reports indicate, however, that in response to environmental cues, such as lymphopenia, mature Fo B cells can change to display phenotypic markers characteristic of MZ B cells. Previously, we found that splenic B cells transferred to SCID mice responded to polyoma virus (PyV) infection with T cell-independent (TI) IgM and IgG secretion, reducing the viral load and protecting mice from the lethal effect of the infection. The contribution of MZ and Fo B cell subsets to this antiviral TI-2 response, however, has not been addressed. In this study, we show that both sort-purified MZ and Fo B cells generate protective TI Ab responses to PyV infection when transferred into SCID mice. Moreover, the transferred Fo B cells in the spleens of the PyV-infected SCID mice change phenotype, with many of them displaying MZ B cell characteristics. These findings demonstrate the plasticity of the B cell subsets in virus-infected hosts and show for the first time that B cells derived exclusively from Fo B cells can effectively function in antiviral TI-2 responses.

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