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Successful vaccines rely on activating a functional humoral immune response through the generation of class-switched high affinity immunoglobulins (Igs). The germinal center (GC) reaction is crucial for this process, in which B cells are selected in their search for antigen and T cell help. A major hurdle to understand the mechanisms of B cell:T cell cooperation has been the lack of an antigen-specific in vitro GC system. Here we report the generation of antigen-specific, high-affinity, class-switched Igs in simple 2-cell type cultures of naive B and T cells. B cell antigen uptake by phagocytosis is key to generate these Igs. We have used the method to interrogate if T cells confer directional help to cognate B cells that present antigen and to bystander B cells. We find that bystander B cells do not generate class-switched antibodies due to a defective formation of T-B conjugates and an early conversion into memory B cells.

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Journal article


Communications biology

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