The Development of B Lymphocytes
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The Development of B Lymphocytes

This article focuses primarily on the developmental processes that B-lymphocytes undergo in the human body. This includes a general overview of their functions and the order in which the stages of the development occur. B cells are extremely essential to our survival and immunity and are able to do their jobs with efficiency because of how they are developed.

B cells are lymphocytes that have specific gene arrangements so that they can make immunoglobulin that defend our body from outside invaders and pathogens.  However, the creation process is very complex and plays a huge role in the life of the B cell.

The B cells originate in the bone marrow from B cell precursors, which are destined by their gene sequences to become B cells.  Though one B lymphocyte may only be specific for one specific immunoglobulin type, the combined collection of the cells creates a vast repertoire of multiple immunoglobulin types.  All of these different B cells have different binding specificities to their own special type of immunoglobulin.

           

The next phase of the development process concerns selecting against those B-cells that are not perfect.  The first type of selection these cells undergo is called negative selection.  In negative selection, B cells that bind too strongly to components of the human body are subject to apoptosis.  The ones that survive are subject to positive selection, which involves correct gene expression of the antibody present on the B cell.  These B cells must display the exact type pre B cell receptor that is needed in the immune response.  If it does not, it will die by apoptosis.  The heavy chain and the light chain of the pre B cell must be absolutely perfect or they will not survive the positive selection process.

Once the B cell has fully matured, it is still considered naïve until it has encountered antigen.  Therefore, it must leave the bone marrow and begin searching for places of infection.  This involves circulating these lymphocytes between the lymph, the blood, and the secondary lymphoid tissues.  Once the B cell has found an infection from an invader, its first response is to begin expanding so that B cells that are specifically geared toward defending this particular antigen can be the most abundant types.  Once the B cell has finished making copies of its cells, those new, naïve cells undergo negative and positive selection and the circle continues.  Some B cells, however, may differentiate into plasma cells that secrete antibodies and some B cells can begin differentiating into memory B cells. 

The main categories of B cell development can be characterized into the following stages:  assembly of immature cells, positive selection, negative selection, circulation throughout the body, encountering infection and then responding to that particular infection in the most efficient way possible.

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