Variable region genes for the immunoglobulin framework are assembled from small segments of DNA - a hypothesis

E. A. Kabat, T. T. Wu, H. Bilofsky

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Sequences of each of the four framework segments FR1, FR2, FR3, and FR4 of the variable regions (V-regions) of light and heavy chains of immunoglobulins were grouped into sets with identical sequences. Sets contained from 1 to 18 members. When each V-region was traced from one FR to the next, it was seen that members of the same set in FRI could be associated with different sets in FR2, FR3, and FR4. This suggests that the framework for the light and heavy chain V-regions is assembled during embryonic development from sets of minigenes for each FR segment. FR4 from three sets of human V(k)I chains also contained members of V(k)II,V(k)III, and V(k)IV subgroups: one FR2 set contained eight rabbit V(k), one human V(k)IV, and four mouse V(k) and an FR4 set contained two human V(H)III and one mouse V(H)III, indicating substantial evolutionary preservation of these sequences and suggesting that the sets of minigenes are highly conserved in the germ line. The clone of Tonegawa et al. could be a hybrid FR1 and FR3 coming from minigenes of MOPC 315 (a V(λ)II) whereas FR2 would come from MOPC 104E (a V( 1/4 )I). That FR4 is not joined to the rest of the V-region in 12-day-old mouse embryo DNA is also in accord with this hypothesis. Mouse sperm DNA should be examined to establish whether the hypothesized minigenes are separated by intervening sequences and whether the complementarity-determining (hypervariable) regions or segments of the V-region are separated from the framework in genomic DNA. Sperm DNA from rabbits or other species could be used to search for minigene segments whose sequences are identical in several species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2429-2433
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1978

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