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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Dec 13;108(50):20066-71. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1107498108. Epub 2011 Nov 28.

Naive antibody gene-segment frequencies are heritable and unaltered by chronic lymphocyte ablation.

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  • 1Protein Engineering, Rinat-Pfizer Inc, South San Francisco, CA 94080, USA.


A diverse antibody repertoire is essential for an effective adaptive immune response to novel molecular surfaces. Although past studies have observed common patterns of V-segment use, as well as variation in V-segment use between individuals, the relative contributions to variance from genetics, disease, age, and environment have remained unclear. Using high-throughput sequence analysis of monozygotic twins, we show that variation in naive V(H) and D(H) segment use is strongly determined by an individual's germ-line genetic background. The inherited segment-use profiles are resilient to differential environmental exposure, disease processes, and chronic lymphocyte depletion therapy. Signatures of the inherited profiles were observed in class switched germ-line use of each individual. However, despite heritable segment use, the rearranged complementarity-determining region-H3 repertoires remained highly specific to the individual. As it has been previously demonstrated that certain V-segments exhibit biased representation in autoimmunity, lymphoma, and viral infection, we anticipate our findings may provide a unique mechanism for stratifying individual risk profiles in specific diseases.

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