Studies presented here show that the expression of CD4, MHC class II (Ia,) and B220 cleanly resolves a major and a minor subset within the earliest pro-B cell population (germ-line pro-B) in adult bone marrow (BM). The major subset expresses intermediate B220 and low CD4 levels. The minor subset, which constitutes roughly 20% of the adult germ-line pro-B, expresses very low B220 levels and does not express CD4. Ia is clearly detectable at low levels on the major germ-line pro-B subset, both in wild-type adult mice and in gene-targeted mice (RAG2−/− and μMT), in which B cell development terminates before the pre-B cell stage. A small proportion of cells in the more mature pro-B cell subsets (Hardy Fractions B and C) also express Ia at this level. In contrast, Ia levels on the minor subset are barely above (or equal to) background. Surprisingly, the major germ-line pro-B cell subset found in adults is missing in fetal and neonatal animals. All of the germ-line pro-B in these immature animals express a phenotype (very low B220, no CD4, or Ia) similar to that of the minor pro-B cell subset in adult BM. Because B cell development in fetal/neonatal animals principally results in B-1 cells, these findings demonstrate that the B-1 development pathway does not include the major germ-line pro-B subset found in adult BM and hence identify a very early difference between the B-1 and -2 development pathways
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