We have investigated the effects of cleavage of factor B by its activating enzyme, factor D, as well as its activation fragments Bb and Ba, on the growth of mouse spleen B lymphocytes preactivated by LPS. Neither factor B nor factor D show any growth-supporting activity when tested alone. The coaddition of factor B and factor D to serum-free cultures of LPS-preactivated B cell blasts increased the proliferation of the responding cells up to the level obtained by restimulation with LPS. Such growth-supporting activity was shown to be mediated by Ba, whereas Bb did not show any significant effect. Furthermore, this effect was not restricted to the LPS-preactivated B cell blasts; in fact, Ba also supported the growth of in vivo, activated B cell blasts of unprimed mice of the LPS-nonresponder C3H/HeJ strain. In contrast, Ba did not maintain growth of Con A-activated T cells or TCGF-dependent CTL cells. Taken together, these results describe the first biological activity of human Ba as a B cell stimulatory factor.

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