Polymerization of secretory IgM in B lymphocytes is prevented by a prior targeting to a degradation pathway

I. Shachar, R. Amitay, E. Rabinovich, J. Haimovich, S. Bar-Nun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


B lymphocytes express on their surface a membrane form of IgM (mIgM), and synthesize but fail to secrete a secretory form of IgM (sIgM). Plasma cells shift to the exclusive synthesis and efficient secretion of sIgM. The sIgM in B cells differs from that in plasma cells in its pattern of assembly: in plasma cells, monomers of sIgM are assembled into polymers and only polymers are secreted; in B lymphocytes, monomeric sIgM is neither polymerized nor secreted and is degraded intracellularly. In this article we blocked the export of proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum at low temperatures or with energy poisons or brefeldin A, and localized the different assembly steps of mIgM and sIgM in the 38C B lymphocytes and of sIgM in the 38C- derived sIgM-secreting D2 hybridoma. In both cell lines, sIgM assembly into monomers was not affected, whereas polymerization of sIgM in D2 cells and monomer formation of mIgM in 38C cells were strongly inhibited. Moreover, probing with specific lectins revealed galactosylated monomers and polymers in D2 cells and galactosylated hemimer and monomers only of mIgM in 38C cells. In addition, when Golgi functions were hampered with Tris base, monomerization of mIgM and polymerization of sIgM were attenuated. These results indicate that polymerization of sIgM in D2 cells and monomerization of mIgM in 38C cells are post-endoplasmic reticulum events, occurring in or beyond the trans-Golgi galactosylation compartment. Since only polymers are secreted from D2 cells and only monomeric mIgM is displayed on the surface of 38C cells, partially assembled molecules may traverse the secretory pathway yet are restricted from the cell surface. Furthermore, monomeric sIgM in 38C cells is never galactosylated, thus it is degraded prior to the galactosylation compartment. We conclude that targeting of sIgM to degradation in 38C cells precedes its assembly site into polymers in D2 cells. This implies that degradation of sIgM does not result from the incompetence of 38C cells to polymerize. Rather, assembly of sIgM into polymers and their subsequent secretion are prevented in B lymphocytes by preceding targeting of monomeric sIgM to degradation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24241-24247
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number34
StatePublished - 1992


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