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Critical test of a sister chromatid exchange model for the immunoglobulin heavy-chain class switch


, : Critical test of a sister chromatid exchange model for the immunoglobulin heavy-chain class switch. Nature 313(6004): 687-689

B lymphocytes may switch from producing an immunoglobulin heavy chain of the mu class to that of the gamma, epsilon or alpha class. To maintain the specificity, the new heavy chain must keep the original variable (V) region; this is achieved by deleting DNA sequences so that the V (consisting of joined VH, diversity (DH) and joining (JH) gene segments) and C (constant) gene segments coding for the new heavy chain are brought into close proximity (reviewed in ref. 5; we do not consider here the mu-delta situation). There are, in principle, three types of chromosomal rearrangements that yield a deletion: rearrangement within a chromatid; unequal sister chromatid exchange (as suggested by Obata et al.); and unequal recombination between chromosomal homologues. We have analysed the arrangement of C mu DNA in clones of the pre-B-cell line 18-81 that switches in vitro from mu to gamma 2b. The clones examined produce either mu, gamma 2b or no immunoglobulin chain. We report here that all the gamma 2b clones had lost at least one copy of C mu and no clones contained three copies of C mu. These findings formally exclude both unequal sister chromatid exchange and recombination between homologues as mechanisms for creating a gene encoding the gamma 2b chain.

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PMID: 3919304


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