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Adv Immunol. 1994;56:179-218.

Generating the antibody repertoire in rabbit.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, Illinois 60153.


We describe a model for B cell development and generation of the antibody repertoire in rabbits. In this model, B cells develop early in ontogeny, migrate to GALT, and undergo the first round of diversification by a somatic gene conversion-like process and by somatic mutation. We designate the repertoire developed by this mechanism as the primary antibody repertoire and it is this repertoire that makes the rabbit immunocompetent. We invoke GALT as the site for development of the primary repertoire because (1) surgical removal of GALT from neonatal rabbits results in highly immunocompromised animals, (2) in germfree rabbits essentially no lymphoid development occurs in GALT and the rabbits are immunoincompetent, and (3) the follicular development of rabbit GALT is highly similar to that of the chicken bursa, the site in which the primary antibody repertoire develops by somatic gene conversion in chicken. We suggest that once the primary antibody repertoire is formed, it is maintained by self-renewing CD5+ B cells and is expanded to a secondary antibody repertoire after the B cells encounter antigen.

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