Characterization of antigen processing and presentation by resting B lymphocytes

UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Publication Date


Document Type



Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


The production of antibody to a thymus-dependent Ag requires cooperation between the B cell and an Ag-specific Th cell. MHC restriction of this interaction implies that the Th cell recognizes Ag on the B cell surface in the context of MHC molecules and that the Ag-specific B cell gets help by acting as an APC for the Th cell. However, a number of studies have suggested that normal resting B cells are ineffective as APC, implying that the B cell must leave the resting state before it can interact specifically with a Th cell. Other studies, including our own with rabbit globulin-specific mouse T cell lines and hybridomas, show that certain T cell lines can be efficiently stimulated by normal resting B cells. One possible explanation for the above contradiction is that our B cells have become activated before presentation. Here we show that presentation by size-selected small B cells is not the result of nonspecific activation signals generated by the T cells or components of the medium. Also, although LPS activation does increase the efficiency of presentation by small B cells, use of large cells in place of small cells or preincubation of resting B cells with mitogenic doses of anti-Ig does not. Another possibility that we considered was that small B cells are unable to process Ag and that we had selected T cell lines that were capable of recognizing native Ag on the B cell surface. In the majority of cases, experiments with B cell lines and macrophages have shown that Ag presentation requires Ag processing, a sequence of events that includes internalization of Ag into an acid compartment, denaturation or digestion of Ag into fragments, and its return to the cell surface in the context of class II MHC molecules. The experiments reported here show that our T cell lines require an Ag processing step and that small resting B cells, like other APC, process Ag before presenting it to T cells. Specifically, we show that an incubation of 2 to 4 h is required after the Ag pulse before Ag presentation becomes resistant to irradiation. Shortly after the pulse, the Ag enters a pronase-resistant compartment. Although efficient Ag presentation requires initial binding to membrane Ig, Ag is no longer associated with membrane Ig at the time of presentation and is not presented in its intact form, because removal of membrane Ig by goat anti-Ig blocks presentation before but not after the Ag pulse.


J Immunol. 1988 Mar 1;140(5):1408-13.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID