Chronic treatment of mice from birth with anti-µ antibodies aborts development of B lymphocytes and plasma cells. In these studies we show that bone marrow from anti-µ-treated mice contains a population of cells with cytoplasmic IgM, but which lack detectable cell-surface IgM. These cells are analogous to pre-B cells, defined in ontogenetic studies as the immediate precursors of B lymphocytes. Pre-B cells from bone marrow of anti-µ treated mice retain their functional integrity, as evidenced by their ability to give rise to sIgM+, LPS-responsive lymphocytes in culture. We also show that cyclophosphamide treatment destroys pre-B cells and that recovery of pre-B cells in bone marrow precedes the regeneration of sIgM+ B lymphocytes. Generation of B lymphocytes in adult mice apparently occurs exclusively in the bone marrow because induction of extramedullary hemopoiesis in spleen was not accompanied by the appearance of pre-B cells in that organ.

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