CD20 is a plasma membrane phosphoprotein expressed exclusively by B lymphocytes. mAb binding to CD20 alters cell cycle progression and differentiation, indicating that CD20 plays an essential role in B lymphocyte function. Whole-cell patch clamp and fluorescence microscopy measurements of plasma membrane ionic conductance and cytosolic-free Ca2+ activity, respectively, were used to directly examine CD20 function. Transfection of human T and mouse pre-B lymphoblastoid cell lines with CD20 cDNA and subsequent stable expression of CD20 specifically increased transmembrane Ca2+ conductance. Transfection of CD20 cDNA and subsequent expression of CD20 in nonlymphoid cells (human K562 erythroleukemia cells and mouse NIH-3T3 fibroblasts) also induced the expression of an identical transmembrane Ca2+ conductance. The binding of a CD20-specific mAb to CD20+ lymphoblastoid cells also enhanced the transmembrane Ca2+ conductance. The mAb-enhanced Ca2+ currents had the same conductance characteristics as the CD20-associated Ca2+ currents in CD20 cDNA-transfected cells. C20 is structurally similar to several ion channels; each CD20 monomer possesses four membrane spanning domains, and both the amino and carboxy termini reside within the cytoplasm. Biochemical cross-linking of cell-surface molecules with subsequent immunoprecipitation analysis of CD20 suggests that CD20 may be present as a multimeric oligomer within the membrane, as occurs with several known membrane channels. Taken together, these findings indicate that CD20 directly regulates transmembrane Ca2+ conductance in B lymphocytes, and suggest that multimeric complexes of CD20 may form Ca2+ conductive ion channels in the plasma membrane of B lymphoid cells.

This content is only available as a PDF.