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Eur J Immunol. 1994 Dec;24(12):2941-9.

Anti-B cell autoantibodies encoded by VH 4-21 genes in human fetal spleen do not require in vivo somatic selection.

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Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0663.


We isolated immunoglobulin (Ig) VH4 genes that were rearranged in the genomic DNA of 160 day human fetal spleen. Productively rearranged VH 4-21 genes were cloned into pRTM1, a human IgM expression vector. This allowed us to generate IgM kappa-expressing transfectomas by co-transfecting each of these constructs with pSVG-V kappa 3, an Ig kappa light-chain expression vector that has a variable region encoded Humkv325, a conserved V kappa gene that is frequently expressed early B cell ontogeny. We find that all transfectomas expressing IgM kappa encoded by VH 4-21 make IgM autoantibodies reactive with i, a linear poly-N-acetyllactosamine determinant present on neonatal red blood cells and a B cell-restricted isoform of the CD45 surface molecule. In contrast, a transfectoma expressing pSVG-V kappa 3 and pRTM1 containing a rearranged VH4-59 (V71-4) gene isolated from a chronic lymphocytic leukemia B cell population, designated WIL, produced IgM kappa antibodies that had no detectable anti-i binding activity. However, transfectomas expressing VH 4-21 fused onto the Ig heavy-chain third complementarity determining region (CDR3) of WIL are found to make anti-B cell autoantibodies with anti-i activity. These studies indicate that VH 4-21 genes rearranged in human fetal B cell ontogeny can encode anti-B cell autoantibodies with a binding specificity that does not require in vivo somatic selection.

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