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The neutralizing antibody response against vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) was studied to analyze conditions necessary for induction of mature B cells. The glycoprotein of VSV (VSV-G) is expressed as repetitive epitopes that are in a rigid densely packed paracristalline form in the virus envelope; in contrast, VSV-G is present in a mobile randomly ordered form on infected cells and in micelles. We found that the rigid, paracristalline form of VSV-G spaced about 5-10 mm on VSV virons induced potent primary and secondary neutralizing B cell responses which were independent of T helper cells, whereas the more randomly distributed, mobile forms of VSV-G induced primary and secondary B cell responses that were more tightly controlled by T helper cells. These data suggest that (i) cross-linking is a critical signal for B cell activation and antibody production, and that this signal alone does not necessarily anergize or delete mature B cells, (ii) the more regularly and rigidly ordered in a distance of 5-10 nm repetitive identical antigenic determinants are, the less are primary and secondary B cell responses controlled by T cells. We therefore propose that B cells take antigen organization as a marker for foreigness.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Immunol

Publication Date





3445 - 3451


Animals, Antibodies, Viral, Antigens, T-Independent, Antigens, Viral, B-Lymphocytes, Cell Differentiation, Female, Glycoproteins, Immunoglobulin M, Immunologic Memory, Lymphocyte Activation, Male, Membrane Glycoproteins, Mice, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Inbred CBA, Mice, Inbred DBA, Mice, Inbred ICR, Mice, Nude, Mice, SCID, Neutralization Tests, Protein Conformation, T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer, Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus, Viral Envelope Proteins