Visualization of the endogenous NF-kappa B p50 subunit in the nucleus of follicular dendritic cells in germinal centers

J Immunol. 1994 Jan 1;152(1):12-21.


NF-kappa B, a 50 kDa/65 kDa (p50/p65) heterodimer, is a ubiquitous transcription factor involved in the positive regulation of various immune genes. The aim of this study was to determine whether NF-kappa B is related to a particular cell type and/or differentiation step during immunopoiesis. Using in situ hybridization on sections from non HIV hyperplastic lymph nodes, we found that the gene of the 105 kDa precursor of p50 was overexpressed in the light zone of germinal centers, with a network aspect, which suggested the involvement of follicular dendritic cells (FDC). By immunohistochemistry, p50 protein was detected in the cytoplasm and nucleus of FDC, confirming the involvement of FDC. Furthermore, p50 protein was detected in the cytoplasm of all lymphocytes. Thus, we focused our study on isolated FDC clusters from normal tonsils. As showed on tissue sections, we detected the p50 in both cytoplasm and nucleus of FDC. Nuclei of lymphocytes from FDC clusters were negative. We next studied p65 and c-Rel protein expression in FDC clusters. p65 was detected in the cytoplasm of FDC, whereas nuclei were negative. Furthermore, p65 was detected in the nuclei of some lymphocytes. c-Rel protein was detected only in the cytoplasm of lymphocytes and not in the nucleus and cytoplasm of FDC. Our results indicated that, in the context of T cell-dependent B cell immunopoiesis occurring in FDC clusters, p50 is mainly related to FDC with a massive overexpression in the nuclei, whereas p65 is expressed in a scattered manner in the nuclei of lymphocytes and c-Rel protein exclusively in the cytoplasm of lymphocytes from FDC clusters. These results suggested that the two subunits of NF-kappa B and the c-Rel protein have different roles in different cell types during B cell immunopoiesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dendritic Cells / chemistry*
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • NF-kappa B / analysis*
  • NF-kappa B p50 Subunit
  • Palatine Tonsil / cytology
  • Protein Precursors / analysis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / analysis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-rel
  • Transcription Factor RelA


  • NF-kappa B
  • NF-kappa B p50 Subunit
  • Protein Precursors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-rel
  • Transcription Factor RelA