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Successful vaccines rely on activating a functional humoral response that results from promoting a proper germinal center (GC) reaction. Key in this process is the activation of follicular B cells that need to acquire antigens and to present them to cognate CD4 T cells. Here, we report that follicular B cells can phagocytose large antigen-coated particles, a process thought to be exclusive of specialized antigen-presenting cells such as macrophages and dendritic cells. We show that antigen phagocytosis by B cells is BCR-driven and mechanistically dependent on the GTPase RhoG. Using Rhog-/- mice, we show that phagocytosis of antigen by B cells is important for the development of a strong GC response and the generation of high-affinity class-switched antibodies. Importantly, we show that the potentiation effect of alum, a common vaccine adjuvant, requires direct phagocytosis of alum-antigen complexes by B cells. These data suggest a new avenue for vaccination approaches by aiming to deliver 1-3 μm size antigen particles to follicular B cells.

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Journal article



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B cells, alum, phagocytosis, vaccination