Early derivation of IgM memory cells and bone marrow plasmablasts

<div><p>IgM memory cells are recognized as an important component of B cell memory in mice and humans. Our studies of B cells elicited in response to ehrlichial infection identified a population of CD11c-positive IgM memory cells, and an IgM bone marrow antibody-secreting cell population. The origin of these cells was unknown, although an early T-independent spleen CD11c- and T-bet-positive IgM plasmablast population precedes both, suggesting a linear relationship. A majority of the IgM memory cells detected after day 30 post-infection, also T-bet-positive, had undergone somatic hypermutation, indicating they expressed activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID). Therefore, to identify early AID-expressing precursor B cells, we infected an AID-regulated tamoxifen-inducible Cre-recombinase-EYFP reporter strain. Tamoxifen administration led to the labeling of both IgM memory cells and bone marrow ASCs on day 30 and later post-infection. High frequencies of labeled cells were identified on day 30 post-infection, following tamoxifen administration on day 10 post-infection, although IgM memory cells were marked when tamoxifen was administered as early as day 4 post-infection. Transcription of <i>Aicda</i> in the early plasmablasts was not detected in the absence of CD4 T cells, but occurred independently of TLR signaling. Unlike the IgM memory cells, the bone marrow IgM ASCs were elicited independent of T cell help. Moreover, <i>Aicda</i> was constitutively expressed in IgM memory cells, but not in bone marrow ASCs. These studies demonstrate that two distinct long-term IgM-positive B cell populations are generated early in response to infection, but are maintained via separate mechanisms.</p></div>