The BLyS Family: Toward a Molecular Understanding of B Cell Homeostasis
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The B Lymphocyte Stimulator (BLyS) family of ligands and receptors regulates humoral immunity by controlling B lymphocyte survival and differentiation. Herein, we review the ligands and receptors of this family, their biological functions, and the biochemical processes through which they operate. Pre-immune B lymphocytes rely on BLyS signaling for their survival, whereas antigen experienced B lymphocytes generally interact more avidly with a homologous cytokine, A Proliferation Inducing Ligand (APRIL). The molecular basis for signaling via the three BLyS family receptors reveals complex interplay with other B lymphocyte signaling systems, affording the integration of selective and homeostatic processes. As our understanding of this system advances, molecular targets for manipulating humoral immunity in both health and disease should be revealed.