Requirements for the natural killer cell-mediated induction of IgG1 and IgG2a expression in B lymphocytes

Int Immunol. 2008 May;20(5):645-57. doi: 10.1093/intimm/dxn021. Epub 2008 Mar 13.


Upon interaction with resting B lymphocytes, IL-2-propagated NK cells can initiate the process of Ig constant region switch recombination (CSR) by inducing germ line transcripts for gamma2a (Igamma2a) as well as increased levels of mRNA for activation-induced cytidine deaminase enzyme. Whereas both these processes are necessary for CSR, they are not sufficient because the cells do not proceed to the expression of mature mRNA for gamma2a (VDJCgamma2a). In addition, NK cells can also upregulate mRNA for the T-box transcription factor (T-bet) in B cells without being able to induce further differentiation. Using transgenic B cells with B cell receptor specificity for nitrophenol (NP), we have now shown that NP-Ficoll-stimulated B cells can be induced by NK cells to express IgG2a as well as IgG1 presumably due to the completion of the process of switch recombination. The inductive ability of NK cells does not require IFN-gamma but does require signals transmitted via CD48 by direct cell contact. In addition, NP-Ficoll on its own can induce proliferation of antigen-specific B cells as well as germ line transcripts of gamma1; however, expression of VDJCgamma1 mRNA also requires NK cell interaction with B lymphocytes. Therefore, in the presence of antigen, NK cells can provide a necessary signal that substitutes for cytokines in the induction of IgG2a as well as IgG1 expression. This in vitro analysis provides a mechanistic basis for understanding the documented NK cell effects on T-independent B cell responses in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD48 Antigen
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Immunoglobulin Class Switching*
  • Immunoglobulin G / biosynthesis*
  • Immunoglobulin G / genetics
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology
  • Interleukin-2 / metabolism
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphocyte Cooperation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / genetics
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / metabolism
  • Transgenes


  • Antigens, CD
  • CD48 Antigen
  • Cd48 protein, mouse
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Interleukin-2
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • T-box transcription factor TBX21
  • Interferon-gamma