A limited number of B cell lineages generates the heterogeneity of a secondary immune response

P. R. Blier, A. Bothwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


We have studied the cellular basis for heterogeneity in the secondary immune response by creating a large set of B cell hybridomas from a single C57BL/6 mouse immunized with the hapten (4-hydroxy-3-nitrophenyl)acetyl coupled to chicken γ-globulin, and searching among the cells for all possible sets of clonally related lines. Among 28 independent cell lines from a single animal we find that 21 of them fall into seven small families of from two to five members; only seven lines have no matches among the set. A statistical analysis determines that the number of genetically distinct B cell precursors whose progeny were isolated during this secondary response is 18, with 95% confidence limits of 14 and 26. The distribution of family sizes implies that each activated clone has proliferated to approximately the same extent. Complete sequencing of the variable region of immunoglobulin heavy chain mRNA from 19 of the cell lines reveals many shared somatic mutations among related lines, implying a pronounced founder effect has occurred to eliminate most of the progeny of each precursor B cell. This may be the result either of a high frequency of debilitating somatic mutation or from selection against cells still expressing the idiotype of primary anti-(4-hydroxy-3-nitrophenyl)acetyl antibodies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3996-4006
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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