B1 and B2 cells differ in their potential to switch immunoglobulin isotype

David M. Tarlinton, Michelle McLean, Gustav J V Nossal

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The ability of purified B1a (Ly‐1B) and B2 cells to switch immunoglobulin isotype was assessed by limiting dilution analysis in two in vitro culture systems. When stimulated in the presence of interleukins‐4 and −5 by either lipopolysaccharide or CD40 ligand, the frequency of IgG1 precursors in the B1a population was at most one third that of IgM precursors. In B2 cells, however, the frequency of IgG1 precursors was up to seven times that of IgM precursors. B1a cells were shown to respond to interleukin‐4 by virtue of up‐regulating major histocompatibility complex class II expression when exposed to the cytokine, precluding non‐responsiveness as a reason for not switching to IgG1. Indeed, interleukin‐4 was found to specifically induce transcription of the germ‐line IgG1 constant region locus in B1a cells as it did in B2 cells. Collectively these results suggest that the ability of B1 cells to respond to isotype switch commitment factors such as interleukin‐4 may be secondary to the production of IgM by these cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3388-3393
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995


  • B cell development
  • Gene rearrangement
  • Isotype switching

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