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Infect Agents Dis. 1995 Sep;4(3):153-60.

Immunoglobulin gene usage in the human anti-pathogen response.

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Department of Medicine, Montreal General Hospital Research Institute, McGill University, Quebec, Canada.


The human antibody response to foreign pathogens is generated to a relatively small number of target surface proteins and carbohydrates that nonetheless have an extensive array of epitopes. The study of human monoclonal antibodies to different pathogens shows that there are a diversity of mechanisms used to generate a sufficient repertoire of antibodies to combat the invading pathogens. Although many different immunoglobulin gene elements are used to construct the anti-pathogen response, some elements are used more often than would be expected if all elements were used randomly. For example, the immune response to Haemophilus influenzae polysaccharide appears to be quite narrow, being restricted primarily to a specific heavy-chain gene, 3-15, and a lambda light-chain family II member, 4A. In contrast, for the immune response to cytomegalovirus proteins, a wider group of gene elements is needed. It is also surprising that despite an investigator bias for IgG- rather than IgM-secreting immortal B cells (because of their high affinity and neutralizing abilities), 26% of light chains and 13% of heavy chains showed a very low level of somatic mutation, equivalent to an IgM molecule that has not undergone affinity maturation. Although some highly mutated IgG molecules are present in the anti-pathogen response, most of the monoclonal antibodies specific for viruses or bacteria have a level of somatic hypermutation similar to that of the adult IgM repertoire. A number of studies have shown that there are similarities in the antibody responses to pathogens and to self (autoantibodies).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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