Bystander B cells rapidly acquire antigen receptors from activated B cells by membrane transfer Academic Article uri icon


  • The B cell antigen receptor (BCR) efficiently facilitates the capture and processing of a specific antigen for presentation on MHC class II molecules to antigen-specific CD4(+) T cells (1). Despite this, the majority of B cells are thought to play only a limited role in CD4(+) T cell activation because BCRs are clonotypically expressed. Here, we show, however, that activated B cells can, both in vitro and in vivo, rapidly donate their BCR to bystander B cells, a process that is mediated by direct membrane transfer between adjacent B cells and is amplified by the interaction of the BCR with a specific antigen. This results in a dramatic expansion in the number of antigen-binding B cells in vivo, with the transferred BCR endowing recipient B cells with the ability to present a specific antigen to antigen-specific CD4(+) T cells.


  • Quah, BJC
  • Barlow, VP
  • McPhun, V
  • Matthaei, KI
  • Hulett, MD
  • Parish, CR

publication date

  • March 18, 2008