A still unanswered question is what drives the small fraction of activated germinal center (GC) B cells to become long-lived quiescent memory B cells. We found here that a small population of GC-derived CD38intBcl6hi/intEfnb1+ cells with lower mTORC1 activity favored the memory B cell fate. Constitutively high mTORC1 activity led to defects in formation of the CD38intBcl6hi/intEfnb1+ cells; conversely, decreasing mTORC1 activity resulted in relative enrichment of this memory-prone population over the recycling-prone one. Furthermore, the CD38intBcl6hi/intEfnb1+ cells had higher levels of Bcl2 and surface BCR that, in turn, contributed to their survival and development. We also found that downregulation of Bcl6 resulted in increased expression of both Bcl2 and BCR. Given the positive correlation between the strength of T cell help and mTORC1 activity, our data suggest a model in which weak help from T cells together with provision of an increased survival signal are key for GC B cells to adopt a memory B cell fate.

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