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Br J Haematol. 1991 Mar;77(3):274-81.

Immunoglobulin gene 'fingerprinting': an approach to analysis of B lymphoid clonality in lymphoproliferative disorders.

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Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London.


Rearrangement of the immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) gene is widely exploited as a marker of B cell lineage and clonality in the pathology of lymphoproliferative disorders. We have developed a simple, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based method for detecting IgH gene rearrangement which relies on the observation that by using a panel of PCR amplimers specific for each of the six heavy chain variable region families in conjunction with a common joining region amplimer, clonal rearrangement can be detected in over 90% of cases of B lymphoid malignancy. By using radiolabelled amplimers and exploiting the size heterogeneity resulting from independent IgH rearrangement events, we show that high resolution gel electrophoresis can be used to generate a 'fingerprint' representing the spectrum of B cell clonality in complex populations of B lymphocytes. The method effectively scans the entire IgH gene rearrangement repertoire and is capable of detecting rare clonal or oligoclonal B lymphoid cell populations. In normal bone marrow mononuclear cells, clonal IgH rearrangement could be readily detected at a sensitivity of 10(-3). We illustrate the application of the method in assessing the spectrum of B cell clonality occurring in an autoimmune condition. Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and in a malignant B cell disorder, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. In addition, we explore the potential application of the technique in tracking minimal residual disease and for monitoring clonal evolution in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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