The complement system augments the humoral immune response to low concentrations of antigen. This effect may be partly mediated by complement receptors on the surface of B lymphocytes that bind immunogenic complexes bearing fragments of C3 and C4. We have shown by immunoprecipitation analysis that the two complement receptors expressed by B lymphocytes, complement receptor 1 (CR1) and CR2, form a detergent-sensitive complex on the surface of tonsillar B lymphocytes and on K562 erythroleukemia cells that were co-transfected with cDNAs encoding CR1 and CR2. The CR1/CR2 complex is distinct from the CR2/CD19 complex and may assist B cell activation by efficiently capturing C3b-containing immunogens and maintaining such immunogens on the B cell after CR1 and factor I-mediated cleavage to iC3b and C3dg. The complement activating immunogen may then trigger signal transduction by the CR1/CR2 complex, the CR2/CD19 complex, or membrane immunoglobulin.

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