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J Immunol. 1998 Mar 1;160(5):2145-57.

CD40 ligand and appropriate cytokines induce switching to IgG, IgA, and IgE and coordinated germinal center and plasmacytoid phenotypic differentiation in a human monoclonal IgM+IgD+ B cell line.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Cornell University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, New York 10021, USA.


B lymphocytes are induced to undergo Ig class switching and a complex phenotypic differentiation by the milieu of the germinal center. Partly as a result of the lack of a suitable in vitro B cell model, the relationship between these processes in the humans has never been formally established in vitro. We have identified a human monoclonal B cell line, CL-01, that expresses surface IgM and IgD and, upon induction with CD40 ligand, IL-4, and IL-10, switches to all seven downstream isotypes, showing typical DNA switch recombination preceded by germline transcription of targeted CH regions. In CL-01 cells, switch-inducing stimuli trigger concomitant changes in expression of surface IgD, CD23, CD38, and CD77 that parallel those reported in ex vivo isolated tonsillar centroblasts, centrocytes, and memory B cells. Eventually, in the presence of IL-6, CL-01 cells express CD56 and accumulate cytoplasmic IgG and IgA, both traits of plasmacytoid differentiation. Analysis of transcription and recombination of the Ig H locus in sorted CL-01 cells suggest that Ig class switching begins in centroblasts, it extends to all isotypes in centrocytes, and it is extinct in memory B cells. Thus, we have induced coordinated Ig class switching, progression through germinal center phenotypic stages, and differentiation to memory B cells and plasma cells at the level of a single B clonotype. Our data suggest that these processes are likely regulated by a common maturation program, the activation of which may require CD40 ligand, IL-4, IL-10, and IL-6 only.

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