A small population of B cells exists in lymphoid tissues and body cavities of mice that is distinct in development, phenotype, and function from the majority (B-2) B cell population. This population, originally termed "Ly-1" and now "B-1," has received renewed interest as an innate-like B cell population of fetal-derived hematopoiesis, responsible for natural Ab production and rapid immune responses. Molecular analyses have begun to define fetal and adult hematopoiesis, while cell-fate mapping studies have revealed complex developmental origins of B-1 cells. Together the studies provide a more detailed understanding of B-1 cell regulation and function. This review outlines studies that defined B-1 cells as natural Ab-and cytokine-producing B cells of fetal origin, with a focus on work conducted by R.R. Hardy, an early pioneer and codiscoverer of B-1 cells, whose seminal contributions enhanced our understanding of this enigmatic B cell population.
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