, Volume 27, Issue 2-3, pp 427-442

Positive and negative selection during B lymphocyte development

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Our laboratory is interested in a variety of issues related to lymphocyte development. More specifically, we have focused on the processes that regulate the decision to commit to the B lymphocyte (B cell) lineage, then the subsequent signals that are involved in maintaining this commitment to the B cell lineage. These signals result in the positive selection of those B cells that properly execute the complex genetic changes associated with B cell development, then trigger the elimination of B cells that are responsive to self-antigens and, therefore, possess the potential to mediate autoimmune disease. Our general experimental approach has been to address these issues from the perspective of signal transduction. Our goal is to define the biochemical and genetic processes that are integrated in order to accomplish these selection processes. To do so, we employ in vivo animal models as well as more defined in vitro studies, using both primary and transformed cell lines. For the past several years, we have been primarily interested in the precise mechanisms by which the B cell antigen receptor (BCR), and intermediate forms of this receptor, regulate these complex developmental processes. We have used the ongoing studies described below as two representative examples of how we are approaching these issues and some of the insights that we have made. To place both of these studies in context, we will begin with a brief introduction into B cell development.