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WIREs Dev Biol
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Cellular and chromatin dynamics of antibody‐secreting plasma cells

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Plasma cells are terminally differentiated B cells responsible for maintaining protective serum antibody titers. Despite their clinical importance, our understanding of the linear genomic features and chromatin structure of plasma cells is incomplete. The plasma cell differentiation program can be triggered by different signals and in multiple, diverse peripheral B cell subsets. This heterogeneity raises questions about the gene regulatory circuits required for plasma cell specification. Recently, new regulators of plasma cell differentiation have been identified and the enhancer landscapes of naïve B cells have been described. Other studies have revealed that the bone marrow niche harbors heterogeneous plasma cell subsets. Still undefined are the minimal requirements to become a plasma cell and what molecular features make peripheral B cell subsets competent to become antibody‐secreting plasma cells. New technologies promise to reveal underlying chromatin configurations that promote efficient antibody secretion. WIREs Dev Biol 2016, 5:136–149. doi: 10.1002/wdev.213 This article is categorized under: Gene Expression and Transcriptional Hierarchies > Gene Networks and Genomics Gene Expression and Transcriptional Hierarchies > Cellular Differentiation
Model depicting the multiple routes to terminal differentiation and heterogeneity within the plasma cell bone marrow niche. Recent data indicate that both T‐dependent and T‐independent responses yield plasma cells competent to enter the bone marrow. How these plasma cells differ is not known. In addition, switched and unswitched memory B cells give rise to plasma cells. It is uncertain whether plasma cells continue to mature once they reach the bone marrow, as depicted by dashed arrows. Bmem, B memory cells; FoB, follicular B cells; MZ, marginal zone; GC B, germinal center B cells.
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