An Ig molecule containing L chains and H chains similar to human delta-chains has been detected on the surface of radioiodinated murine lymphoid cells. Newborn mice have only IgM on their splenocytes. Between 10 and 15 days, the IgD-like molecule appears and increases in amount until 3 mo of age, when it is the predominant cell surface Ig in terms of radioactivity. IgD is found only in peripheral lymphoid tissues and is present in larger amounts on peripheral lymph node cells (approximately 85% of surface Ig) than on splenocytes (approximately 50%). IgD is also present in comparable amounts on cells from both nu/nu and germfree mice, indicating that its expression may be independent of both thymic influence and antigenic stimulation. These studies suggest that there is a switch from cell surface IgM to IgD that occurs during differentiation of virgin B lymphocytes in the spleen.

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