IgA memory B cells have been operationally defined as precursors that give rise to clones exclusively secreting IgA antibodies upon antigen stimulation in a T-cell dependent splenic fragment culture. B lymphocytes that are sIgA+ account for a small fraction of Peyer's patch lymphocytes, but these can be clearly divided into two subsets. One subset contains the majority of sIgA+ B cells and most of these are in S, G2, or M phase of the cell cycle. These cells are germinal center B cells, as defined by being S kappa low and peanut agglutinin (PNA)high, and contain most of the mRNA alpha. Though these germinal center cells may contain the majority of sIgA+ B cells and may contain precursors for memory cells, preplasma cells, or both, they do not appear to be immediately responsive to stimulation by antigen. Rather, the S kappa high, PNAlow subset of sIgA+ B cells, most of which are in G0 or G1 and have only low levels of mRNA alpha appear to contain most of the clonal precursors that are committed to IgA, i.e., the functional memory cells that give rise to clones exclusively secreting IgA upon stimulation with thymus-dependent antigen in the presence of T cells. There is also a population of Peyer's patch B cells that neither bears detectable sIgA nor has mRNA alpha detectable by cytoplasmic dot blotting but contains a small proportion of the functional IgA memory cells.

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