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Semin Immunol. 1996 Feb;8(1):45-59.

B-1 cells: unique origins and functions.

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Department of Microbiology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


B-1 cells represent a distinct population of B lymphocytes with unique phenotypic, developmental and functional characteristics. We present evidence that the expression of MHC class II antigens differentiates two distinct developmental pathways which define the fetal-type (FT) and adult-type B-cell lineages. Further in-vivo and in-vitro analyses suggest that B-1 cells are derived primarily if not exclusively from the FT lineage. Combining these results with other studies suggesting that signalling plays a role in the development of B-1 cells, we propose a modified dual lineage model for the generation of B-1 cells. In this model fetal-type B cells are uniquely 'born' with the capacity to be B-1 cells, however, they must be properly educated (i.e. receive the appropriate signals) before they can be 'made' functional, phenotypic B-1 cells. With respect to the function of B-1 cells, we have used PerC/BM allotype chimeric animals to investigate the capacity of B-1 cells to participate in the formation of germinal centers. In these mice we were unable to detect any significant involvement of B-1 cells in the generation of germinal centers. These results are discussed in the context of the known characteristics of B-1 responses including the low frequency of hypermutation and isotype class switching.

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