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Nature. 1988 Jul 21;334(6179):253-5.

Can B cells turn on virgin T cells?

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Basel Institute for Immunology, Switzerland.


The first event in the initiation of an immune response is the capture and presentation of antigen to T cells. Such presentation involves two distinct steps: (1) display of the antigen, which requires uptake, processing and re-expression of the antigen in association with MHC molecules on the presenting cell surface; and (2) triggering, in which the presenting cell provides signals leading to the activation of the responding T cell. Two sorts of cells can capture antigens, the 'professional' antigen-presenting cells (APCs) such as dendritic cells and macrophages, and the B cells. Both types of cells can display antigens and the APCs are known to be able to trigger resting T cells. But despite in vitro evidence that certain B-cell types can reactivate previously-activated T cells, it is not yet clear whether a B cell can initiate an immune response by providing the signals necessary to activate a resting T cell. We reasoned that resting B cells should not have this capacity because of the problems this would present with tolerance to self idiotypes. By exploiting the unique properties of the avian haematopoietic system, we have examined the presenting capacity of B cells in vivo and found that resting B cells are indeed unable to activate resting T cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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