Intrinsic properties of human germinal center B cells set antigen affinity thresholds

Kihyuck Kwak, Nicolas Quizon, Haewon Sohn, Avva Saniee, Javier Manzella-Lapeira, Prasida Holla, Joseph Brzostowski, HengYi Xie, Chenguang Xu, Katelyn Marie Spillane, Pavel Tolar, Susan K. Pierce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
331 Downloads (Pure)


Protective antibody responses to vaccination or infection depend on affinity maturation, a process by which high-affinity germinal center (GC) B cells are selected on the basis of their ability to bind, gather, and present antigen to T follicular helper (Tfh) cells. Here, we show that human GC B cells have intrinsically higher-affinity thresholds for both B cell antigen receptor (BCR) signaling and antigen gathering as compared with naïve B cells and that these functions are mediated by distinct cellular structures and pathways that ultimately lead to an- tigen affinity– and Tfh cell–dependent differentiation to plasma cells. GC B cells bound antigen through highly dynamic, actin- and ezrin-rich pod-like structures that concentrated BCRs. The behavior of these structures was dictated by the intrinsic antigen affinity thresholds of GC B cells. Low-affinity antigens triggered continuous engagement and disengagement of membrane-associated antigens, whereas high-affinity antigens induced stable synapse formation. The pod-like structures also mediated affinity-dependent antigen internalization by unconventional pathways distinct from those of naïve B cells. Thus, intrinsic properties of human GC B cells set thresholds for affinity selection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)eaau6598
JournalScience Immunology
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Intrinsic properties of human germinal center B cells set antigen affinity thresholds'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this