Somatically hypermutated Plasmodium-specific IgM+ memory B cells are rapid, plastic, early responders upon malaria rechallenge

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Humoral immunity consists of pre-existing antibodies expressed by long-lived plasma cells and rapidly reactive memory B cells (MBC). Recent studies of MBC development and function after protein immunization have uncovered significant MBC heterogeneity. To clarify functional roles for distinct MBC subsets during malaria infection, we generated tetramers that identify Plasmodium-specific MBCs in both humans and mice. Long-lived murine Plasmodium-specific MBCs consisted of three populations: somatically hypermutated immunoglobulin M(+) (IgM(+)) and IgG(+) MBC subsets and an unmutated IgD(+) MBC population. Rechallenge experiments revealed that high affinity, somatically hypermutated Plasmodium-specific IgM(+) MBCs proliferated and gave rise to antibody-secreting cells that dominated the early secondary response to parasite rechallenge. IgM(+) MBCs also gave rise to T cell-dependent IgM(+) and IgG(+)B220(+)CD138(+) plasmablasts or T cell-independent B220(-)CD138(+) IgM(+) plasma cells. Thus, even in competition with IgG(+) MBCs, IgM(+) MBCs are rapid, plastic, early responders to a secondary Plasmodium rechallenge and should be targeted by vaccine strategies.

Journal details

Journal Immunity
Volume 45
Issue number 2
Pages 402-414
Available online
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Crick authors

Crick First author
Crick Corresponding author