Bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) has been reported to induce immunoglobulin (Ig)G2b class switching, yet we observed strain differences in IgG2b secretion in response to this mitogen. Specifically, BALB/c B cells, unlike those from DBA/2, synthesized relatively low amounts of IgG2b relative to IgG3, IgG1, or IgM. This report demonstrates that transforming growth factor (TGF) beta 1, previously shown to induce IgA class switching, selectively stimulates IgG2b secretion by BALB/c resting B cells activated with LPS. This activity was specifically reversed with a neutralizing anti-TGF-beta 1 antibody. The ability of TGF-beta 1 to act directly on highly purified membrane (m)IgM+ mIgG2b- cells to stimulate IgG2b production, stimulate an increase in IgG2b-secreting cells, and selectively increase the steady-state levels of germline gamma 2b RNA, suggests that it promotes IgG2b class switching. In this regard, addition of anti-TGF-beta antibody to cultures of DBA/2-derived resting B cells activated by LPS, alone, led to selective reduction in IgG2b secretion, indicating that endogenous TGF-beta 1 accounts for the high IgG2b secretory response observed in that strain. Finally, TGF-beta 1 failed to stimulate IgG2b secretion by B cells activated with dextran-conjugated anti-IgD antibody. We propose that TGF-beta 1 is a switch factor for the murine IgG2b subclass for appropriately activated B cells. In combination with other data, this would show that all six non-IgM, non-IgD isotypes in the mouse can be selectively induced by specific cytokines.

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