The pre-B cell receptor in B cell development: recent advances, persistent questions and conserved mechanisms

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2005;290:87-103. doi: 10.1007/3-540-26363-2_5.


B cell development is a process tightly regulated by the orchestrated signaling of cytokine receptors, the pre-B cell receptor (BCR) and the B cell receptor (BCR). It commences with common lymphoid progenitors (CLP) up-regulating the expression of B cell-related genes and committing to the B cell lineage. Cytokine signaling (IL-7, stem cell factor, FLT3-L) is essential at this stage of development as it suppresses cell death, sustains proliferation and facilitates heavy chain rearrangements. As a result of heavy chain recombination, the pre-BCR is expressed, which then becomes the primary determiner of survival, cell cycle entry and allelic exclusion. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms of B cell lineage commitment and describe the signaling pathways that are initiated by the pre-BCR. Finally, we compare pre-BCR and pre-TCR structure, signal transduction and function, drawing parallels between early pre-B and pre-T cell development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Lymphopoiesis*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Pre-B Cell Receptors
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell
  • Signal Transduction


  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Pre-B Cell Receptors
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell