We have compared transgenic mice that express the influenza virus PR8 hemagglutinin (PR8 HA) as a membrane-bound neo-self antigen (HA104 mice) with nontransgenic (non-Tg) mice for their ability to generate HA-specific B cell responses after primary immunization with PR8 virus. HA-specific, IgM-secreting B cells were induced with similar frequencies in HA104 and non-Tg mice. In addition, a B cell clonotype (C4) that is characteristic of anti-HA immune responses of BALB/c mice was identified among HA-specific IgM hybridomas from HA104 mice. A subset of HA-specific, IgG-secreting B cells that arises rapidly after primary virus immunization in non-Tg mice, however, was substantially reduced in HA104 mice. Likewise, a B cell clonotype (C12) that dominates HA-specific IgG hybridomas generated after primary immunization of non-Tg mice was present at greatly reduced frequencies among hybridomas from HA104 mice. Because HA-specific, IgG-secreting B cells were generated by HA104 mice in response to a mutant HA containing an amino acid interchange in a B cell antigenic site, we conclude that these PR8 HA-specific, IgG-secreting B cells are negatively selected in HA104 mice as a result of their specificity for the neo-self PR8 HA. The findings demonstrate that HA-specific B cells that display distinct phenotypic potentials in non-Tg mice also differ in their susceptibility to negative selection from the primary B cell repertoire of HA104 mice: a subset of B cells that undergo rapid differentiation to become HA-specific IgG antibody-secreting cells (ASC) after activation in non-Tg mice is negatively selected in HA104 mice. By contrast, a subset that gives rise to HA-specific, IgM-secreting ASC persists in the primary repertoire of HA104 mice and can be activated by virus immunization.

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