We have previously described a novel human B cell differentiation factor (BCDF), 446-BCDF, that is distinct biochemically and functionally from other cytokines. Since signal transduction pathways involved in human B cell differentiation have been incompletely studied and are poorly understood, we assessed the effects of 446-BCDF on various intracellular second messenger systems. After exposure of B cells to 446-BCDF, intracellular cAMP concentration started to decrease at 5 min and was significantly lower at 30 min and reached the lowest level at 4 hr. In most cases, cAMP concentrations returned toward baseline by 24 hr. A cAMP analog (dibutyryl cAMP), a stimulator of adenyl cyclase (forskolin), and phosphodiesterase inhibitors (aminophylline and IBMX) which inhibited the 446-BCDF-induced decrease in intracellular cAMP, inhibited 446-BCDF-induced B cell differentiation, suggesting that the fall in intracellular cAMP was a critical event in this process. To understand the mechanism involved in the reduction of cAMP, B cells were treated with pertussis toxin (PTX), a Gi protein inhibitor. Pertussis toxin blocked 446-BCDF-induced B cell differentiation as well, suggesting that 446-BCDF may function by stimulation of a Gi-linked receptor resulting in the inhibition of adenylate cyclase with a consequent reduction in cAMP. Other cytokines known to promote Ig secretion (IL2 and IL6) also caused a reduction in cAMP, suggesting that this pathway may be generally important in B cell differentiation. Taken together, these data suggest that at least one pathway of terminal maturation in B cells may involve the reduction of intracellular cAMP.
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