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J Exp Med. 2005 May 2;201(9):1467-78.

Intricate targeting of immunoglobulin somatic hypermutation maximizes the efficiency of affinity maturation.

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Molecular Immunogenetics Program, The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA.


It is believed that immunoglobulin-variable region gene (IgV) somatic hypermutation (SHM) is initiated by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) upon deamination of cytidine to deoxyuracil. Patch-excision repair of these lesions involving error prone DNA polymerases such as poleta causes mutations at all base positions. If not repaired, the deaminated nucleotides on the coding and noncoding strands result in C-to-T and G-to-A exchanges, respectively. Herein it is reported that IgV gene evolution has been considerably influenced by the need to accommodate extensive C deaminations and the resulting accumulation of C-to-T and G-to-A exchanges. Although seemingly counterintuitive, the precise placement of C and G nucleotides causes most C-to-T and G-to-A mutations to be silent or conservative. We hypothesize that without intricate positioning of C and G nucleotides the efficiency of affinity maturation would be significantly reduced due to a dominance of replacements caused by C and G transition mutations. The complexity of these evolved biases in codon use are compounded by the precise concomitant hotspot/coldspot targeting of AID activity and Poleta errors to maximize SHM in the CDRs and minimize mutations in the FWRs.

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