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Dev Immunol. 1990;1(1):11-7.

Structure of germline immunoglobulin heavy-chain gamma 1 transcripts in interleukin 4 treated mouse spleen cells.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of Massachusetts, Worcester 01655.


Antibody class switching is mediated by a DNA recombination event that replaces the C mu gene with one of the other heavy (H) chain constant region (CH) genes located 3' to the C mu gene. The regulation of this process is essential to the immune response because different CH regions provide different biological functions. Correlative evidence indicates that the isotype (class) specificity of the switch is determined by the accessibility of specific CH genes as indicated by hypomethylation and transcriptional activity. For example, RNAs transcribed from specific unrearranged CH genes are induced prior to switching under conditions that promote subsequent switching to these same CH genes. The function of transcription of these germline CH genes is unknown. In this report, we describe the structure of RNA transcribed from unrearranged gamma 1 genes in mouse spleen cells treated with LPS plus a HeLa cell supernatant containing recombinant interleukin 4. The germline gamma 1 RNA is initiated at multiple start sites 5' to the tandem repeats of the gamma 1 switch (S gamma 1) region. As is true for analogous RNAs transcribed from unrearranged gamma 2b and alpha genes, the germline gamma 1 RNA has an I exon transcribed from the region 5' to S gamma 1 sequences, which is spliced at a unique site to the C gamma gene. The germline gamma 1 RNA has an open-reading frame (ORF) that potentially encodes a small protein 48 amino acid in length.

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