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Developmental Immunology
Volume 1 (1991), Issue 3, Pages 149-161

Stromal-Cell and Cytokine-Dependent Lymphocyte Clones Which Span the Pre-B- to B-Cell Transition

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, 825 N.E. 13th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104, USA

Accepted 12 October 1990

Copyright © 1991 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Five stromal-cell-dependent lymphocyte clones are described that correspond to late pre-B or early B-cell stages of differentiation.They are useful for determining the molecular requirements for pre-B replication, for studying the stromal cells that supply those factors, and for delineating the final sequence of differentiation events as newly formed lymphocytes prepare to exit the bone marrow. The efficiency of lymphocyte growth at limiting dilution varied substantially on different stromal-cell clones and may reflect functional heterogeneity of stromal cells. Most lymphocyte clones were similar to uncloned lymphocytes from Whitlock-Witte cultures in that they responded only transiently to interleukin-7 (IL-7) and then died, unless maintained on a stromal-cell clone. One unusual lymphocyte clone (2E8) was propagated for more than 1 year in IL-7 alone and was selectively responsive to that cytokine. Most of the lymphocyte clones were not tumorigenic in immunodeficient mice. However, one pre-B clone (1A9)’grew autonomously in culture when held at high density, responded to conditioned medium from a number of cell lines, and was tumorigenic. Tumors derived from this clone were infiltrated by stromal cells and lymphocytes taken from the tumors' retained characteristics of the original clone. Ly-6 antigens were inducible on 2E8 and 1A9 cells, but the lymphocytes were otherwise arrested in differentiation. The 2E8 cells had rearranged and expressed κ light-chain genes but displayed them on the surface along with surrogate light chains and μ heavy chains. Thus, expression of authentic Tight chain need not coincide with termination of surrogate light-chain utilization in newly formed B cells. Several glycoproteins have recently been demonstrated to be associated with surface immunoglobulin (Ig) on mature B-lineage cells and plasma-cell tumors. We now show that one member of this family (approximately 33 kD) was associated with the μ+surrogate light-chain complex on the 1A9 pre-B-cell clone. When compared to mature B lymphomas, fewer bands coprecipitated with the surface-labeled Ig isolated from pre-B- and early B-cell lines, suggesting that components of the antigen receptor are sequentially acquired during development. The normal replication and differentiation of pre-B cells is probably regulated by complex interactions with multiple cytokines and matrix components of the marrow microenvironment. Cloned lymphocyte lines that are dependent on stromal cells should continue to be important tools for molecular definition of those interactions.