The normal migration route of B cells into follicular areas of spleen and lymph nodes is altered in the case of autoreactive cells that have bound self-antigen. To begin characterizing the molecular requirements for B cell migration into follicles, cells were treated with pertussis toxin (PTX), an inhibitor of signaling by many G protein-coupled chemokine receptors. Lymphocyte accumulation in the spleen is not inhibited by PTX and, therefore, the distribution of transferred cells was examined in this tissue. In contrast to untreated cells that localized predominantly in follicular areas within white pulp cords, PTX-treated B cells failed to enter white pulp areas altogether and accumulated in the splenic red pulp. T cells were also excluded from white pulp cords and in the case of both cell types, the adenosine diphosphate-ribosylating subunit of the toxin was required to block white pulp entry. These findings implicate a G protein-coupled receptor in lymphocyte migration into splenic white pulp cords. Exclusion of PTX-treated cells from all organized areas of secondary lymphoid tissues raises the possibility that the association observed between PTX treatment and predisposition to autoimmune disease results from inhibition of tolerance mechanisms that normally operate within secondary lymphoid tissues.

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