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J Clin Invest. 1991 Sep;88(3):911-20.

Variable region diversity in human circulating antibodies specific for the capsular polysaccharide of Haemophilus influenzae type b. Preferential usage of two types of VH3 heavy chains.

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Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093.


Antibodies against capsular polysaccharides are important in the defense against many pathogenic bacteria. To determine the mechanism for the variability in responses to polysaccharides, a panel of well characterized serologic reagents that identify diagnostic primary amino acid sequences in the framework and hypervariable regions of heavy (H) and light (L) chains were created to characterize the variable region diversity in circulating human antibodies. 10 normal adult volunteers were immunized with the type b capsular polysaccharide of Haemophilus influenzae (Hib PS). By immunoblot analyses each individual was found to use at least three different variable L (VL) families, but all had preferential usage of VH3-derived H chains. Four individuals had lesser populations of VH1-derived H chains and three had populations of VH4-derived H chains, but anti-Hib PS antibodies derived from the VH2, VH5, and VH6 families were not detected. The anti-Hib PS antibodies from all subjects were also identified by serologic markers for two specific types of VH3 H chains. These H chains are structurally related to the 20P1 and 30P1 VH genes that are preferentially rearranged in the early human repertoire. These findings document the VH restriction of physiologic responses to Hib PS immunization, and demonstrate a technique to directly assess the structural and genetic diversity of specific serum antibodies.

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