B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (B-CLL) cells display low amounts of surface immunoglobulins (sIg). To investigate the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon, we performed a thorough study of surface and intracellular expression of the B-cell receptor (BCR) components in B-CLL cells using flow cytometry. There was an heterogeneous pattern of expression. Overall, 20 of 22 samples showed reduced sIgM levels, compared with normal B cells. Among them, three (15%) had very low to undetectable intracellular IgM levels and variable amounts of CD79a and CD79b; nine (45%) had low intracellular CD79b levels but appreciable levels of IgM and CD79a; and eight (40%) had relatively normal intracellular levels of all BCR components. To investigate whether surface BCR levels could be controlled by the rate of CD79b synthesis, adenoviral vectors encoding CD79b were generated and used for gene transfer experiments. Delivery of CD79b to non-B cells transfected with IgM and CD79a lead to high-level expression of a functional BCR. Moreover, CD79b gene transfer in a B cell line derived from a B-CLL patient and characterised by low intracellular levels of endogenous CD79b consistently increased sIgM levels. These findings indicate that the phenotype of B-CLL cells in a subset of patients may depend primarily on poor CD79b expression, and suggest that upregulation of CD79b expression may correct the phenotype of these cells.
- Adenoviral vector
- B-cell receptor
- Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
- Gene transfer
ASJC Scopus subject areas