Developmentally Controlled Expression of Immunoglobulin V_H genes
Although antibody diversity arises mainly from apparently random combinatorial and somatic mutational mechanisms acting upon a limited number of germline antibody genes, the antibody repertoire develops in an ordered fashion during mammalian ontogeny. A series of early pre-B and B-lymphocyte cell lines were examined to determine whether an ordered rearrangement of gene families of the variable region of immunoglobulin heavy chains (V_H) may be the basis for the programmed development of the antibody response. The results indicated that the V_H repertoire of fetal B-lineage cells is largely restricted to the V_H 7183 gene family and that subsequent recruitment of additional V_H gene families occurs during neonatal development. These results have important implications in understanding the ontogeny of immune function.