We have found that, in the peritoneums of normal adult mice, 5-15% of lymphocytes bind a fluorescent liposome probe. In ontogeny, cells with this specificity were shown to appear by 8 d after birth, and increase to the adult frequency by 2-3 wk. Some older mice contain an expanded population of these cells. We have shown that liposome binding occurs by cell surface IgM recognizing the common membrane phospholipid, phosphatidyl choline (PtC). Virtually all of these PtC-specific cells bear the cell surface marker Ly-1. Our results indicate that roughly 1 in 10 peritoneal Ly-1+ B cells has this single specificity. We have found that the precursors to all the cells that form plaques on protease-treated autologous erythrocytes (BrMRBC) are included in the PtC-specific population and can be isolated by FACS. We believe this is the first report of sorting large numbers of B cells with a single antigen specificity from normal, unimmunized animals. This method will allow for in vitro and in vivo studies of differentiative and proliferative properties of Ly-1+ B cells, which may help define their role in development and disease.

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