Sepharose-anti-Ig and purified populations of small, high-density B cells have been used to study the formation and function of B lymphoblasts. Sepharose-anti-Ig converts small, Ia-poor B cells with a high-buoyant density to large, Ia-rich, B blasts with a low-buoyant density. We find that this response proceeds efficiently in the absence of IL-4 (BSF-1) as well as most T cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells. Further development of the blasts requires an additional stimulus, such as LPS or the conditioned medium of stimulated EL-4 thymoma cells. Within 6 h, blasts begin to enter S phase and within 24 h most divide. At later times (48-72 h) most of the blasts are actively secreting IgM. Recombinant IL-1, -2, -3, and -4 have little or no effect on the B blasts, and a neutralizing mAb to IL-4 does not block the response to EL-4 Sn. We conclude that Sepharose-anti-Ig induces B cell blastogenesis in a T-independent fashion and that these blasts represent a highly enriched population of cells that respond to distinct, T cell-derived lymphokines.

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