Productive humoral responses require that naive B cells and their differentiated progeny move among distinct micro-environments. In this review, we discuss how studies are beginning to address the nature of these niches as well as the interplay between cellular signaling, metabolic programming, and adaptation to the locale. Recent work adds evidence to the expectation that B cells at distinct stages of development or functional subsets are influenced by the altered profiles of nutrients and metabolic by-products that distinguish these sites. Moreover, emerging findings reveal a cross-talk among the external milieu, signal transduction pathways, and transcription factors that direct B cell fate in the periphery.
The metabolic needs of cells of the B lineage differ dramatically, spanning the quiescent naive and memory states, antigen-driven germinal center B cell stages, and terminal differentiation state as antibody-producing cells. Boothby and Rickert outline the metabolic inputs and corresponding pathways that impact peripheral B cell differentiation in distinct microenvironments.