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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013 Feb 1;431(1):41-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2012.12.102. Epub 2013 Jan 3.

CD9 is a novel marker for plasma cell precursors in human germinal centers.

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Laboratory of Cellular Immunology, Ochsner Clinic Foundation, New Orleans, LA, USA.


The germinal center (GC) is the dynamic microenvironment where Ag-activated B cells rapidly expand and differentiate, generating plasma cells (PC) that produce high affinity antibodies. B cells within the GC have great heterogeneity, containing B cells at different stages of activation and differentiation. However, there are few surface markers that allow subsets of GC-B cells to be distinguished. In the present study, we show that GC-B cells in human tonsils contain two distinct populations regarding CD9 expression; CD9- and CD9+ cells. CD9+ GC-B cells are functionally more differentiated towards PC based upon the following evidence; (1) CD9+ cells express higher levels of PC transcription factor, Blimp-1 while lower levels of B cell transcription factors, Bcl-6 and Pax-5, compared to CD9- cells, (2) CD9+ cells differentiate into plasmablasts faster than CD9- cells in the presence of cytokines that generate PC, and (3) CD9 expression was induced in CD9- GC-B cells under PC generating condition and gradually increased in the course of PC differentiation. Taken together, our data suggest that CD9 is a novel marker for a human GC-B cell subset that is committed to PC lineage.

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