Humoral immunity is characterized by the generation of Ab-secreting plasma cells and memory B cells that can more rapidly generate specific Abs upon Ag exposure than their naive counterparts. To determine the intrinsic differences that distinguish naive and memory B cells and to identify pathways that allow germinal center B cells to differentiate into memory B cells, we compared the transcriptional profiles of highly purified populations of these three cell types along with plasma cells isolated from mice immunized with a T-dependent Ag. The transcriptional profile of memory B cells is similar to that of naive B cells, yet displays several important differences, including increased expression of activation-induced deaminase and several antiapoptotic genes, chemotactic receptors, and costimulatory molecules. Retroviral expression of either Klf2 or Ski, two transcriptional regulators specifically enriched in memory B cells relative to their germinal center precursors, imparted a competitive advantage to Ag receptor and CD40-engaged B cells in vitro. These data suggest that humoral recall responses are more rapid than primary responses due to the expression of a unique transcriptional program by memory B cells that allows them to both be maintained at high frequencies and to detect and rapidly respond to antigenic re-exposure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy