High-affinity antibodies are generated in germinal centers in a process involving mutation and selection of B cells. Information processing in germinal center reactions has been investigated in a number of recent experiments. These have revealed cell migration patterns, asymmetric cell divisions, and cell-cell interaction characteristics, used here to develop a theory of germinal center B cell selection, division, and exit (the LEDA model). According to this model, B cells selected by T follicular helper cells on the basis of successful antigen processing always return to the dark zone for asymmetric division, and acquired antigen is inherited by one daughter cell only. Antigen-retaining B cells differentiate to plasma cells and leave the germinal center through the dark zone. This theory has implications for the functioning of germinal centers because compared to previous models, high-affinity antibodies appear one day earlier and the amount of derived plasma cells is considerably larger.
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