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Am J Pathol. 2001 Jul;159(1):253-61.

Immunoglobulin gene mutations and frequent use of VH1-69 and VH4-34 segments in hepatitis C virus-positive and hepatitis C virus-negative nodal marginal zone B-cell lymphoma.

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  • 1Department of Medical Sciences, Section of Hematology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.


Nodal marginal zone B-cell lymphoma (NMZL) is actually considered as a distinct entity that must be distinguished from extra-nodal and splenic marginal zone lymphomas. To define the cell origin and the role of antigen stimulation we determined the nucleotide sequence of the tumor-related immunoglobulin heavy chain variable genes in 10 cases of NMZL. The results were also evaluated on the basis of the presence of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. All 10 cases harbored VH somatic mutations with a sequence homology compared to the closest germline gene, ranging from 83.33 to 98.28%. Interestingly, different VH segments were preferentially used in HCV-positive and HCV-negative patients: three of five HCV-negative NMZLs used a VH4-34 segment joined with different D and JH segments whereas three of five HCV-positive NMZLs used a VH1-69 gene joined with a D3-22 and a JH4 segment, with very strong similarities in the CDR3s among the three different cases. These data indicate: 1) NMZL is derived from B cells that have experienced the germinal center reaction; 2) the preferential usage of a VH1-69 segment in the majority of the HCV-positive NMZL cases with similar CDR3s suggests the presence of a common antigen, probably a HCV antigen epitope, involved in the B-cell selection; and 3) the use of a VH4-34 segment suggests a role of yet unknown B-cell superantigen(s) in the selection of tumor B-cell precursors in HCV-negative NMZL.

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