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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: The Journal of experimental medicine.

Volume 206, Issue 13, December 2009, Pages 2907-2914.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1084/jem.200912251. Copyright © Rockefeller University


Germinal centers (GCs) are specialized structures in which B lymphocytes undergo clonal expansion, class switch recombination, somatic hypermutation, and affinity maturation. Although these structures were previously thought to contain a limited number of isolated B cell clones, recent in vivo imaging studies revealed that they are in fact dynamic and appear to be open to their environment. We demonstrate that B cells can colonize heterologous GCs. Invasion of primary GCs after subsequent immunization is most efficient when T cell help is shared by the two immune responses; however, it also occurs when the immune responses are entirely unrelated. We conclude that GCs are dynamic anatomical structures that can be reutilized by newly activated B cells during immune responses.

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