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Follicular mature (FM) and germinal center (GC) B cells underpin humoral immunity, but the dynamics of their generation and maintenance are not clearly defined. Here, we exploited a fate-mapping system in mice that tracks B cells as they develop into peripheral subsets, together with a cell division fate reporter mouse and mathematical models. We find that FM cells are kinetically homogeneous, recirculate freely, are continually replenished from transitional populations, and self-renew rarely. In contrast, GC B cell lineages persist for weeks with rapid turnover and site-specific dynamics. Those in the spleen derive from transitional cells and are kinetically homogeneous, while those in lymph nodes derive from FM B cells and comprise both transient and persistent clones. These differences likely derive from the nature of antigen exposure at the different sites. Our integrative approach also reveals how the host environment drives cell-extrinsic, age-related changes in B cell homeostasis.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Rep

Publication Date





B cells, mathematical modeling