Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Between B Cells and T Cells

Published: Friday, July 26, 2013
Last Updated: Friday, July 26, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Transcription factor EBF1 reminds cells who they are.

Mature cells develop through a number of immature stages. During this process, they must remember the specialisation they are committed to. For immune system B cells, Rudolf Grosschedl of the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics and his team have discovered that the transcription factor EBF1 is crucial for B cells to remember who they are. When the researchers switched off the transcription factor, the cells lost their previous identity and developed into T cells. Unlike most other cell types, B cells have a characteristic footprint in their genetic makeup and this allowed the researchers to identify the origin of each individual cell.

During the transition from stem cells to becoming a functional part of the immune system, cells must undergo a number of specialisation stages where they have the opportunity to decide between pathways leading to the various cell types found in the blood. It is also important that once they have chosen a specialisation, they remain committed to it.

Immune system B and T cells come from the same stem cell. Rudolf Grosschedl and his colleagues were able to prove as early as 1995 that the transcription factor EBF1 is active only in some of these cells and this induces their development into B cells. Until now, however, it was unclear whether EBF1 also played a part in constantly reminding the B cells of their identity.

B cells usually die when EBF1 is switched off. In collaboration with researchers from the University of Freiburg, the Max Planck researchers collected mouse B cells at a late stage of their development and transferred them to mice lacking an immune system. They then switched off the EBF1 gene in the transplanted B cells. After three months, they checked whether immune cells were still present in the mice. “We thought that the chance of this transfer enabling the cells to remain alive was slim, so we were very pleased that it worked,” says Robert Nechanitzky, a doctoral student and first author of the study. The researchers did indeed find immune cells, but the B cells had forgotten their previous identity. In their place were T cells and natural killer cells, which normally would not be found in these animals.

To find out whether the T and natural killer cells actually had come from the transplanted B cells, the researchers looked for the specific genetic footprint of B cells. Unlike most other cells in the body, B cells change their DNA sequence during their development. To produce antibodies, they bring together several gene segments by cutting and joining their DNA to create a sequence able to code for a functional antibody. The researchers found precisely this typical genetic footprint of B cells in both T cells and natural killer cells. They concluded that after the transcription factor EBF1 had been switched off, the transplanted B cells had forgotten their specialisation and had turned into alternate cell types. Until now, it was only known that the absence of the transcription factor Pax5 had such an effect. “We believe that the two proteins regulate different aspects of cell type specification. EBF1 primarily represses genes that would initiate an alternative programme of development in the B cells, while Pax5 ensures that they no longer react to signals that would enable them to select a different specialisation,” says Grosschedl.

The Freiburg-based researchers now want to understand the exact molecular interactions in the cells and better define the network of factors involved. In the long term, they hope this knowledge will allow cells to be reprogrammed, for example in the case of a pathological loss of a cell type.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Molecular Monkey Arranges X-Chromosome Activation
Protein moulds RNA to ensure that activating factors can hold on to it.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
Promising Drug Combination for Advanced Prostate Cancer
A new drug combination may be effective in treating men with metastatic prostate cancer. Preliminary results of this new approach are encouraging and have led to an ongoing international study being conducted in 196 hospitals worldwide.
A Cellular Symphony Responsible for Autoimmune Disease
Broad Institute researchers have used a novel approach to increase our understanding of the immune system as a whole.
When it Comes to Breast Cancer, Common Pigeon is No Bird Brain
If pigeons went to medical school and specialized in pathology or radiology, they’d be pretty good at distinguishing digitized microscope slides and mammograms of normal vs. cancerous breast tissue, a new study has found.
Editing of LIMS Data Made Faster and More Efficient in Matrix Gemini
The latest version of the Matrix Gemini LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) from Autoscribe Informatics now provides faster and more efficient editing of LIMS data by eliminating the need for a second editing screen.
University of Edinburgh, Selcia Achieve Key Milestones in Drug Development Program
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, working with Selcia, have successfully passed the 20-month milestone targets of a 30-month Wellcome Trust SDDi £2.5 million project to design novel treatments for sleeping sickness.
Red Clover Genome to Help Restore Sustainable Farming
The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) in collaboration with IBERS, has sequenced and assembled the DNA of red clover to help breeders improve the beneficial traits of this important forage crop.
How a Genetic Locus Protects Adult Blood-Forming Stem Cells
Mammalian imprinted Gtl2 protects adult hematopoietic stem cells by restricting metabolic activity in the cells' mitochondria.
Genetic Basis of Fatal Flu Side Effect Discovered
A group of people with fatal H1N1 flu died after their viral infections triggered a deadly hyperinflammatory disorder in susceptible individuals with gene mutations linked to the overactive immune response, according to a recent study.
New Tech Vastly Improves CRISPR/Cas9 Accuracy
A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at UMass Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos