Naive peripheral B cells are maintained in sufficient numbers and diversity to mount effective immune responses against infectious agents. However, the size and repertoire of this B cell pool is constantly diminished by normal cell turnover and Ag activation. Homeostatic (Ag-independent) proliferation in response to B cell depletion is one mechanism to compensate for this cell loss. We have used purified CFSE-labeled B cells and an adoptive transfer model system to show that immature and mature B cells divide in a variety of B cell-deficient (scid, xid, IL-7-/-, and sublethally irradiated) hosts. Homeostatic B cell proliferation is T cell independent, and B cells that have replicated by this mechanism retain the antigenic phenotype of naive B cells. Replication is significantly reduced in B cell-sufficient normal or B cell-reconstituted immunodeficient recipients by the action of competing mature follicular B cells. Using xid mice and transcription factor knockouts, we show that the activation signal(s) that lead to homeostatic B cell proliferation require Bruton's tyrosine kinase; however, c-Rel, a Bruton's tyrosine kinase-induced NF-κB/Rel transcription factor critical for Ag and mitogen stimulation, is dispensable, indicating the uniqueness of this activation pathway. Survival and replication signals can also be separated, because the transcription factor p50 (NF-κB1), which is required for the survival of peripheral B cells, is not necessary for homeostatic replication. Homeostatic B cell proliferation provides an Ag-independent mechanism for the maintenance and expansion of naive B cells selected into the mature B cell pool.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Journal of Immunology|
|State||Published - Dec 15 2002|
ASJC Scopus subject areas