Lack of affinity signature for germinal center cells that have initiated plasma cell differentiation

Immunity. 2024 Feb 13;57(2):245-255.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2023.12.010. Epub 2024 Jan 15.


Long-lived plasma cells (PCs) secrete antibodies that can provide sustained immunity against infection. High-affinity cells are proposed to preferentially select into this compartment, potentiating the immune response. We used single-cell RNA-seq to track the germinal center (GC) development of Ighg2A10 B cells, specific for the Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein (PfCSP). Following immunization with Plasmodium sporozoites, we identified 3 populations of cells in the GC light zone (LZ). One LZ population expressed a gene signature associated with the initiation of PC differentiation and readily formed PCs in vitro. The estimated affinity of these pre-PC B cells was indistinguishable from that of LZ cells that remained in the GC. This remained true when high- or low-avidity recombinant PfCSP proteins were used as immunogens. These findings suggest that the initiation of PC development occurs via an affinity-independent process.

Keywords: B cells; Plasmodium; affinity maturation; germinal center; plasma cells; single-cell RNA-seq.

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Germinal Center*
  • Plasma Cells
  • Precursor Cells, B-Lymphoid