CD21 augments antigen presentation in immune individuals

Susan A. Boackle, V. Michael Holers, David R. Karp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


CD21 (complement receptor 2, CR2) binds the C3 degradation products, iC3b and C3d, which are covalently linked to antigen or immune complexes in the process of complement activation. The ability of antigen-nonspecific B cells to present immune complexes containing high titers of acquired antibodies was tested. Influenza virus was incubated with serum from immune donors to create complement-containing complexes. These bound specifically to CD21 on transfected fibroblasts and B cell lines, as measured by microcytofluorimetry. Binding of immune complexes was ablated by inactivation of serum complement. In addition, the immunoglobulin in immune human serum blocked influenza binding to cells in the absence of complement, implying a minimal role for immunoglobulin-Fc receptor interactions in this system. Significant immune complex binding required a threshold level of CD21 expression, suggesting that only those cells with the highest levels of CD21 are likely to participate in the processing of macromolecular antigens. B cells pulsed with complement-influenza complexes elicited an augmented response from a panel of influenza-specific, class II-restricted T cell clones, as compared with those which had bound immunoglobulin-influenza complexes lacking complement. This enhanced response did not require CD35. In addition, B cell lines expressing higher levels of CD21 were more efficient in processing antigen than those with lower levels. These findings suggest that presentation of antigen by B cells in immune individuals is dependent on the binding of complement-antigen immune complexes to CD21.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-129
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1997


  • Antigen presentation
  • B lymphocyte
  • Complement receptor
  • Human
  • Immune complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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