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Ca2+ signaling in antigen receptor-activated B lymphocytes


Jürgen Wienands
Georg August University of Göttingen
Institute of Cellular and Molecular Immunology
Humboldtallee 34
37073 Göttingen
Tel.: +49-551-39-5812
Fax: +49-551-39-5843


Summary:  B cells respond to antigen stimulation with mobilization of the Ca2+ second messenger in two phases operated by two distinct sets of effector proteins. First, an antigen receptor-specific Ca2+ initiation complex is assembled, activated, and targeted to the plasma membrane to trigger the transient release of Ca2+ from intracellular stores of the endoplasmic reticulum. Second, more ubiquitously expressed Ca2+ channels of the plasma membrane are opened to allow for sustained Ca2+ influx from the extracellular medium. Depending on the developmental stage of the B cell, the kinetics and profile of the two phases are adjusted at multiple levels of positive and negative regulation. A molecular basis for the Ca2+ signaling plasticity is provided by cytosolic and transmembrane adapter proteins. They act as signal organizers, which control enzyme/substrate interactions by directing the different signaling modules into specific subcellular compartments. These arrangements orchestrate a graduated activation of Ca2+-sensitive downstream pathways, which ultimately determine appropriate cellular responses, namely elimination of autoreactive B cells or proliferation and differentiation of immunocompetent B cells into antibody-secreting plasma cells.