B cells acquire antigen from target cells after synapse formation

Nature. 2001 May 24;411(6836):489-94. doi: 10.1038/35078099.


Soluble antigen binds to the B-cell antigen receptor and is internalized for subsequent processing and the presentation of antigen-derived peptides to T cells. Many antigens are not soluble, however, but are integral components of membrane; furthermore, soluble antigens will usually be encountered in vivo in a membrane-anchored form, tethered by Fc or complement receptors. Here we show that B-cell interaction with antigens that are immobilized on the surface of a target cell leads to the formation of a synapse and the acquisition, even, of membrane-integral antigens from the target. B-cell antigen receptor accumulates at the synapse, segregated from the CD45 co-receptor which is excluded from the synapse, and there is a corresponding polarization of cytoplasmic effectors in the B cell. B-cell antigen receptor mediates the gathering of antigen into the synapse and its subsequent acquisition, thereby potentiating antigen processing and presentation to T cells with high efficacy. Synapse formation and antigen acquisition will probably enhance the activation of B cells at low antigen concentration, allow context-dependent antigen recognition and enhance the linking of B- and T-cell epitopes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Antigens, Surface / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Line
  • Endocytosis
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Muramidase / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / immunology


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell
  • hen egg lysozyme
  • Muramidase