Vpre-B and lambda 5 genes, respectively, encode V-like and C-like domains of a surrogate immunoglobulin light chain (psi L). Such psi L complex is expressed in early progenitor B (pro-B) cells, before conventional immunoglobulin heavy (microH) and light (L) chains are produced. We raised a wide panel of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against soluble recombinant Vpre-B proteins to study early events in human B cell development. One of these antibodies, B-MAD688, labeled surrogate Ig-complexes on the surface of microH- pro-B cell lines and normal bone marrow cells in immunofluorescence assays. Immunoprecipitations using surface-labeled pro-B cells and B-MAD688 mAb indicated that human psi L is associated with high molecular weight components homologous to the surrogate heavy (psi H) chains described in mouse. Using B-MAD688 and SLC2 mAbs, we were able to distinguish between psi H psi L and microH psi L complexes on the surface of human pro-B and later precursor, pre-B, cells. The finding of psi H psi L complexes in mouse and man lead us to hypothesize a role for psi H-containing receptors in B cell development.

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