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J Exp Med. 2009 Dec 21;206(13):2907-14. doi: 10.1084/jem.20091225. Epub 2009 Nov 23.

Germinal center reutilization by newly activated B cells.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10065, USA.


Germinal centers (GCs) are specialized structures in which B lymphocytes undergo clonal expansion, class switch recombination, somatic hypermutation, and affinity maturation. Although these structures were previously thought to contain a limited number of isolated B cell clones, recent in vivo imaging studies revealed that they are in fact dynamic and appear to be open to their environment. We demonstrate that B cells can colonize heterologous GCs. Invasion of primary GCs after subsequent immunization is most efficient when T cell help is shared by the two immune responses; however, it also occurs when the immune responses are entirely unrelated. We conclude that GCs are dynamic anatomical structures that can be reutilized by newly activated B cells during immune responses.

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