CD81 is a component of the CD19/CD21 coreceptor complex in B cells. This tetraspanin molecule was previously shown to enable membrane reorganization in B cells responding to complement-bound antigens. Here we stimulated B cells via their B cell receptor (BCR) and demonstrate that Cd81−/− B cells fluxed higher intracellular free calcium ion along with increased phosphorylation of PLCγ2 and Syk. The stimulated Cd81−/− B cells also proliferated faster and secreted higher amounts of antibodies. Moreover, activation of the TLR4 pathway in Cd81−/− B cells induced increased proliferation and antibody secretion. Furthermore, Cd81−/− mice mounted a significantly higher immune response to T-cell independent antigens than their wildtype counterparts. Finally, analysis of Cd81−/− B cells that were generated by bone marrow transplantation into Rag1−/− mice confirmed a cell intrinsic hyperactive phenotype. Taken together, these results indicate that CD81 plays a negative role in B cell activation in vitro and in vivo.

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