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Nat Immunol. 2011 Jun;12(6):472-7.

Germinal center B and follicular helper T cells: siblings, cousins or just good friends?

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The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


Humoral immunity requires interaction between specialized populations of B cells and CD4(+) T cells, called follicular helper T cells (T(FH) cells), in the germinal center (GC) to produce memory B cells and long-lived plasma cells. Molecular crosstalk between GC B cells and T(FH) cells influences the survival, proliferation and differentiation of each cell type. This pairing of GC B cells and T(FH) cells also occurs at the transcriptional level as the Bcl-6–IRF4–Blimp-1 axis, which is crucial for B cell differentiation, is also essential for the T(FH) cell identity. Less is known about the memory B cells that arise from the GC pool, as they seem to be distinctly 'programmed' on the basis of their antigen receptor affinity to enter the long-lived memory pool.

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