Research ArticlePLASMA CELLS

Low CD21 expression defines a population of recent germinal center graduates primed for plasma cell differentiation

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Science Immunology  27 Jan 2017:
Vol. 2, Issue 7, eaai8153
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aai8153

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Plasma cell precursors

Memory B cells are critical players in the rapid secondary immune response to pathogens; however, little is known about B cell subsets that are phenotypically different from classical memory populations. Now, Lau et al. report that CD21lo B cells in healthy humans are predisposed to differentiate into long-lived plasma cells. CD21lo B cells were induced during the peak of germinal center (GC) activity after influenza vaccination but formed distinct clades from memory B cells and plasmablasts. These cells were primed for plasma cell differentiation but resistant to further GC differentiation. These data suggest that CD21lo cells are a distinct population of memory B cells that may contribute to plasma cell formation.