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J Immunol. 2013 Aug 1;191(3):1240-9. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1300062. Epub 2013 Jun 26.

T cell-dependent IgM memory B cells generated during bacterial infection are required for IgG responses to antigen challenge.

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Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY 12201, USA.


Immunological memory has long considered to be harbored in B cells that express high-affinity class-switched IgG. IgM-positive memory B cells can also be generated following immunization, although their physiological role has been unclear. In this study, we show that bacterial infection elicited a relatively large population of IgM memory B cells that were uniquely identified by their surface expression of CD11c, CD73, and programmed death-ligand 2. The cells lacked expression of cell surface markers typically expressed by germinal center B cells, were CD138 negative, and did not secrete Ab ex vivo. The population was also largely quiescent and accumulated somatic mutations. The IgM memory B cells were located in the region of the splenic marginal zone and were not detected in blood or other secondary lymphoid organs. Generation of the memory cells was CD4 T cell dependent and required IL-21R signaling. In vivo depletion of the IgM memory B cells abrogated the IgG recall responses to specific Ag challenge, demonstrating that the cell population was required for humoral memory, and underwent class-switch recombination following Ag encounter. Our findings demonstrate that T cell-dependent IgM memory B cells can be elicited at high frequency and can play an important role in maintaining long-term immunity during bacterial infection.

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