We demonstrate that humans have a phenotypically and functionally distinct subset of B lymphocytes that express the interleukin (IL)-2 receptor (IL-2R) α-chain, cluster of differentiation (CD) 25q1. We found that one-third of the circulating CD20+ B cells expressed CD25 and, using fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) analysis, that these cells were significantly larger and more granulated than B cells not expressing CD25q2. The simultaneous expression of q3the other two subunits (CD122 and CD132) and the proliferative responses of cells expressing CD25 to IL-2 suggested that, in addition to CD25, functional IL-2 receptors were expressed on this cell population. CD25 expression on B cells was selectively up-regulated by Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2), TLR4, and TLR9 ligands but not by a TLR3 ligand or Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) stimulation. Blockade of the nuclear factor (NF)-κB pathway completely abolished CD25 up-regulation by these B cells. Interestingly, CD25+ B cells expressed significantly higher levels of surface immunoglobulins but lacked the ability to secrete immunoglobulin (Ig), as compared with CD25- B cells. Furthermore, CD25+ B cells performed significantly better as antigen-presenting cells in allogeneic mixed lymphocyte reactions (MLR), which may be a result of their expression of high levels of the costimulatory molecules CD27 and CD80. Finally, blocking of CD25 on B cells led to an almost total abrogation of MLR. Our results indicate that CD25+ B cells have distinct phenotypic and functional properties, including the ability to contribute to antigen presentation, which is linked to their expression of CD25. Finally, the differential regulation of CD25 expression via selective TLR ligands suggests a role for CD25+ B cells in bridging innate and acquired immune responses.
- B cells
- CD25 expression