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Br J Haematol. 1996 Aug;94(2):306-17.

Analysis of the kappa light chain variable region in multiple myeloma.

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First Department of Medicine, University of Athens School of Medicine, Laikon General Hospital, Greece.


The study of immunoglobulin heavy chain gene rearrangements in multiple myeloma has revealed extensive divergence from the germline sequences, but no intraclonal diversity with disease evolution. Our study investigated the state of the rearranged kappa light chain variable region (V kappa) gene segments as well as abortive V kappa family gene usage in cases of multiple myeloma expressing lambda light chain. We studied 11 cases of kappa and five cases of lambda light chain-expressing multiple myeloma. Total cellular RNA was extracted from the bone marrow of patients with overt disease and subjected to reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis to amplify clonally rearranged variable region sequences. Direct nucleotide sequencing by the dideoxy-chain termination method was performed on the RT-PCR products. We did not observe preferential usage of certain V kappa gene families. Mutation frequencies of the V kappa segments varied in number. In the majority of cases, extensive somatic mutations occurred within the complementarity determining regions (CDRs) of V kappa, whereas only a limited degree of divergence from the germline was observed in others. In all cases studied. replacement mutations tended to cluster in the CDRs, a finding compatible with an antigen-driven somatic hypermutation process. In 3/5 cases of lambda light-chain expressing multiple myeloma, abortively rearranged V kappa gene segments were amplified from genomic DNA; in two cases a non-templated nucleotide insertion rendering the V kappa sequences out-of-frame was observed, and in the third a stop codon was identified in the open reading frame of the V kappa sequence. Somatic mutations were observed in all cases of abortive V kappa genes studied; however, their distribution does not suggest selection by antigen. We conclude that somatic mutations observed in the V kappa regions of myeloma cells are of variable extent and suggest operation of the antigen selection process. Lack of or minimal somatic hypermutation in a few cases may be in some way implicated in the biological heterogeneity of the disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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