The effect of B cell receptor signaling on antigen endocytosis and processing

Immunol Invest. 2004 May;33(2):143-56. doi: 10.1081/imm-120030733.


B cell receptor (BCR)-mediated antigen processing and presentation involves both the BCR-mediated internalization and processing of cognate antigen as well as the formation and expression of antigenic peptide-MHC class II complexes. While BCR signaling is known to result in changes in the biosynthesis and intracellular trafficking of class II molecules, the effect of BCR signaling on the cell biology of antigen endocytosis and processing is less clear. Therefore, the effect of BCR signaling on the cell biology of fluid phase antigen endocytosis, processing and presentation was analyzed in both B cell lines or in normal splenic B cells. The results demonstrate that BCR signaling alters neither the global level of fluid phase antigen endocytosis nor the duration of intracellular persistence of fluid phase internalized antigen. Moreover, while BCR signal does result in an increase in the level of total cell surface MHC class II molecules as well as specific peptide-class II complexes, stimulation failed to alter the fraction of class II molecules loaded with antigen-derived peptide. These results indicate that while BCR-mediated signaling elicits an increase in the expression of antigenic peptide-class II complexes, signaling does not augment antigen presentation by profoundly altering the basic biology of antigen endocytosis and processing. These results also demonstrate that the high efficiency of BCR-mediated antigen processing (when compared to fluid phase antigen processing) is likely to occur independent of BCR signaling-induced global alterations in the biology of endocytosis, processing and presentation. This finding suggests that if BCR signaling augments the efficiency of processing of cognate antigen, it must impact unique aspects of BCR-mediated antigen processing, such as the intracellular persistence of internalized antigen-BCR complexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / drug effects
  • Antigens / immunology*
  • Antigens / metabolism*
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Endocytosis* / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / immunology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Spleen / drug effects
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Spleen / metabolism


  • Antigens
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell