B cell antigen receptors of the IgM and IgD classes are clustered in different protein islands that are altered during B cell activation

Sci Signal. 2015 Sep 15;8(394):ra93. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2005887.


The B cell antigen receptors (BCRs) play an important role in the clonal selection of B cells and their differentiation into antibody-secreting plasma cells. Mature B cells have both immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgD types of BCRs, which have identical antigen-binding sites and are both associated with the signaling subunits Igα and Igβ, but differ in their membrane-bound heavy chain isoforms. By two-color direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM), we showed that IgM-BCRs and IgD-BCRs reside in the plasma membrane in different protein islands with average sizes of 150 and 240 nm, respectively. Upon B cell activation, the BCR protein islands became smaller and more dispersed such that the IgM-BCRs and IgD-BCRs were found in close proximity to each other. Moreover, specific stimulation of one class of BCR had minimal effects on the organization of the other. These conclusions were supported by the findings from two-marker transmission electron microscopy and proximity ligation assays. Together, these data provide evidence for a preformed multimeric organization of BCRs on the plasma membrane that is remodeled after B cell activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Membrane / genetics
  • Cell Membrane / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin D / genetics
  • Immunoglobulin D / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin M / genetics
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / immunology*


  • Immunoglobulin D
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell