B lymphocytes use B cell receptors (BCRs) to sense the physical features of the antigens. However, the sensitivity and threshold for the activation of BCRs resulting from the stimulation by mechanical forces are unknown. Here we addressed this question using a double-stranded DNA based tension gauge tether system serving as a predefined mechanical force gauge ranging from 12 to 56 pN. We observed that IgM-BCR activation is dependent on mechanical forces and exhibits a multi-threshold effect. In contrast, the activation of isotype-switched IgG- or IgE-BCR only requires a low threshold of less than 12 pN, providing an explanation for their rapid activation in response to antigen stimulation. Mechanistically, we found that the cytoplasmic tail of the IgG-BCR heavy chain is both required and sufficient to account for the low mechanical force threshold. These results defined the mechanical force sensitivity and threshold that are required to activate different isotyped BCRs.
- Ronald N Germain, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, United States
© 2015, Wan et al.
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