Previous work has shown that the immediate precursor of B lymphocytes (PB cell) has many properties that distinguish it from both B lymphoctes and hemopoietic stem cells. Size, density, tissue distribution, and sensitivity to cytotoxic antisera differ for each type of cell. The work described here was designed to study three aspects of the differentiation of PB cells. First, since PB cells probably have immunoglobulin surface receptors, fluorescein-labeled anti-immunoglobulin antiserum was used in an attempt to investigate directly the physical properties of PB cells. The use of this labeled antiserum revealed a population of cells with properties similar to the PB cells defined by the functional assays. Second, the differentiative potential of PB cells was studied by comparing the size of the total population of PB cells, as determined with fluorescein-labeled anti-immunoglobulin antiserum, to the size of the population of PB cells responding in a functional assay with a specific antigen. The cells responding in the functional assay represent only 0.1% of the total population of PB cells. This observation suggests that PB cells are not pluripotent stem cells of the immune system. Finally, the kinetics of the differentiation of PB cells to B lymphocytes was studied. The differentiation to mature lymphocytes involves at least one intermediate stage in which cells larger than mature B cells are active in a functional assay for B cells. These large B cells are present in irradiated mice soon after transplantation of PB cells, but by 20 days the majority of the B cells are typical small lymphocytes.

This content is only available as a PDF.