B cell development is often depicted as a linear process initiating in the fetus and continuing postnatally. Using a PU.1 hypomorphic mouse model, we found that B-1 and B-2 lymphopoiesis occurred in distinct fetal and adult waves differentially dependent on the Sfpi1 14 kB upstream regulatory element. The initial wave of fetal B-1 development was absent in PU.1 hypomorphic mice, while subsequent fetal and adult waves emerged. In contrast, B-2 lymphopoiesis occurred in distinct fetal and adult waves. Whole-transcriptome profiling of fetal and adult B cell progenitors supported the existence of three waves of B-1 and two waves of B-2 development and revealed that the network of transcription factors governing B lineage specification and commitment was highly divergent between B-1 and B-2 progenitors. These findings support the view that the B-1 and B-2 lineages are distinct and provide a genetic basis for layering of immune system development.
B lymphopoiesis is often considered a linear process that initiates in the fetus and continues in postnatal bone marrow. Montecino-Rodriguez et al. show that B-1 and B-2 development occurs in distinct, differentially regulated fetal and adult waves, indicating an unappreciated complexity in the development of the humoral immune system.