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MDPI, Cells, 12(9), p. 2633, 2020

DOI: 10.3390/cells9122633



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Flow Cytometric Methods for the Detection of Intracellular Signaling Proteins and Transcription Factors Reveal Heterogeneity in Differentiating Human B Cell Subsets

Journal article published in 2020 by Casper Marsman ORCID, Tineke Jorritsma, Anja ten Brinke ORCID, S. Marieke van Ham
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Data provided by SHERPA/RoMEO


The flow cytometric detection of intracellular (IC) signaling proteins and transcription factors (TFs) will help to elucidate the regulation of B cell survival, proliferation and differentiation. However, the simultaneous detection of signaling proteins or TFs with membrane markers (MMs) can be challenging, as the required fixation and permeabilization procedures can affect the functionality of conjugated antibodies. Here, a phosphoflow method is presented for the detection of activated NF-κB p65 and phosphorylated STAT1, STAT3, STAT5 and STAT6, together with the B cell differentiation MMs CD19, CD27 and CD38. Additionally, a TF-flow method is presented that allows the detection of the B cell TFs PAX5, c-MYC, BCL6 and AID and antibody-secreting cell (ASC) TFs BLIMP1 and XBP-1s, together with MMs. Applying these methods on in vitro-induced human B cell differentiation cultures showed significantly different steady-state levels, and responses to stimulation, of phosphorylated signaling proteins in CD27-expressing B cell and ASC populations. The TF-flow protocol and Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection (UMAP) analysis revealed heterogeneity in TF expression within stimulated CD27- or CD38-expressing B cell subsets. The methods presented here allow for the sensitive analysis of STAT, NF-κB p65 signaling and TFs, together with B cell differentiation MMs, at single-cell resolution. This will aid the further investigation of B cell responses in both health and disease.