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J Immunol. 2012 Mar 1;188(5):2305-15. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1103484. Epub 2012 Jan 27.

Skewed primary Igκ repertoire and V-J joining in C57BL/6 mice: implications for recombination accessibility and receptor editing.

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  • 1Department of Immunology and Microbial Science, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Previous estimates of the diversity of the mouse Ab repertoire have been based on fragmentary data as a result of many technical limitations, in particular, the many samples necessary to provide adequate coverage. In this study, we used 5'-coding end amplification of Igκ mRNAs from bone marrow, splenic, and lymph node B cells of C57BL/6 mice combined with amplicon pyrosequencing to assess the functional and nonfunctional Vκ repertoire. To evaluate the potential effects of receptor editing, we also compared V/J associations and usage in bone marrows of mouse mutants under constitutive negative selection or an altered ability to undergo secondary recombination. To focus on preimmune B cells, our cell sorting strategy excluded memory B cells and plasma cells. Analysis of ~90 Mbp, representing >250,000 individual transcripts from 59 mice, revealed that 101 distinct functional Vκ genes are used but at frequencies ranging from ~0.001 to ~10%. Usage of seven Vκ genes made up >40% of the repertoire. A small class of transcripts from apparently nonfunctional Vκ genes was found, as were occasional transcripts from several apparently functional genes that carry aberrant recombination signals. Of 404 potential V-J combinations (101 Vκs × 4 Jκs), 398 (98.5%) were found at least once in our sample. For most Vκ transcripts, all Jκs were used, but V-J association biases were common. Usage patterns were remarkably stable in different selective conditions. Overall, the primary κ repertoire is highly skewed by preferred rearrangements, limiting Ab diversity, but potentially facilitating receptor editing.

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