Switching to IgG3, IgG2b, and IgA is division linked and independent, revealing a stochastic framework for describing differentiation Academic Article uri icon


  • LPS was used to induce switching of B cells to IgG3 and, in the presence of TGF-beta, to IgG2b and IgA. Switching to all three isotypes increased with division number according to a consistent relationship that was independent of time in culture. The mode of activation altered the relationship with division, as CD40 ligand increased switching to IgA and decreased switching to IgG2b and IgG3 when measured per division. This division-linked switching behavior could be described by Gaussian probability distributions centered around a mean division number. The divisions at which switching to IgG3 and IgG2b occurred overlapped, raising the possibility that the two switching mechanisms were linked. However, when IgG3+ and IgG3- B cells were sorted and placed back in culture, they switched to IgG2b at an equivalent rate, indicating that alternative switching decisions were made independently within a single cell. As a consequence, isotype switching could be predicted at the population level by standard probability laws. Therefore, division number provides a framework for a stochastic description of differentiation that may be widely applicable.

publication date

  • November 6, 1999