Engagement of the B cell receptor (BCR) by surface-tethered antigens (Ag) leads to formation of a synapse that promotes Ag uptake for presentation onto major histocompatibility complex class II (MHCII) molecules. We have highlighted the membrane trafficking events and associated molecular mechanisms involved in Ag extraction and processing at the B cell synapse. MHCII-containing lysosomes are recruited to the synapse where they locally undergo exocytosis, allowing synapse acidification and the extracellular release of hydrolases that promote the extraction of the immobilized Ag. Lysosome recruitment and secretion results from the polarization of the microtubule-organizing center (MTOC), which relies on the cell division cycle (Cdc42)-downstream effector, atypical protein kinase C (aPKCζ). aPKCζ is phosphorylated upon BCR engagement, associates to lysosomal vesicles, and is required for their polarized secretion at the B cell synapse. Regulation of B lymphocyte polarity therefore emerges as a central mechanism that couples Ag extraction to Ag processing and presentation.
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