We describe the first protein of mammalian origin that induces the growth and differentiation of resting B lymphocytes. A proline-rich protein has been isolated from sheep colostrum. A purified proline-rich protein preparation (PRPP) induced resting mouse B cells into and supported their progression through the cell cycle at frequencies comparable with those seen for LPS. Differentiation of resting B cells to plaque formation was also supported as efficiently by PRPP as it was by LPS. However, PRPP was distinct from LPS in that it supported the growth and differentiation of resting B cells derived from either C3H/Tif or C3H/HeJ mice. Splenocytes from neonatal mice responded robustly to PRPP with the growth and differentiation of contained B cells to plaque formation. Unlike LPS, PRPP did not induce detectable Ig isotype switching.

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