Germinal centers (GCs) are sites wherein B cells proliferate and mutate their immunoglobulins in the dark zone (DZ), followed by affinity-based selection in the light zone (LZ). Here, we mapped the location of single B cells in the context of intact lymph nodes (LNs) throughout the GC response, and examined the role of BCR affinity in dictating their position. Imaging of entire GC structures and proximal single cells by light-sheet fluorescence microscopy revealed that individual B cells that previously expressed AID are located within the LN cortex, in an area close to the GC LZ. Using in situ photoactivation, we demonstrated that B cells migrate from the LZ toward the GC outskirts, while DZ B cells are confined to the GC. B cells expressing very-low-affinity BCRs formed GCs but were unable to efficiently disperse within the follicles. Our findings reveal that BCR affinity regulates B cell positioning during the GC response.

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