[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sharks and skates are representatives of the earliest vertebrates with an immune system based on V(D)J rearrangement. They possess a unique Ig gene organization consisting of 15 to >50 individual IgM loci, each with one VH, two DH, one JH, and one set of constant region exons. The present study attempts to understand how multiple Ig genes are regulated with respect to rearrangement initiation and to targeting during somatic hypermutation. The linkage of three single-copy IgH genes was determined, and single-cell genomic PCR studies in a neonatal animal were used to examine any relationship between relative gene position and likelihood of rearrangement. Our results show that one to three IgH genes are activated independently of linkage or allelic position and the data best fit with a probability model based on the hypothesis that V(D)J rearrangement occurs as a sequence of trials within the B cell. In the neonatal cell set, two closely related IgH, G2A, and G2B, rearranged at similar frequencies, and their membrane forms were expressed at similar levels, like in other young animals. However, older animals displayed a bias in favor of the G2A isotype, which suggests that although rearrangement at G2A and G2B was randomly initiated during primary repertoire generation, the two very similar IgM sequences appear to be differentially expressed with age and exposure to Ag. We performed genomic single-cell PCR on B cells from an immunized individual to study activation-induced cytidine deaminase targeting and found that hypermutation, like V(D)J rearrangement, occurred independently among the many shark IgH.
The Journal of Immunology 09/2011; 187(5):2492-501. · 5.52 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The adaptive immune system depends on specific antigen receptors, immunoglobulins (Ig) in B lymphocytes and T cell receptors (TCR) in T lymphocytes. Adaptive responses to immune challenge are based on the expression of a single species of antigen receptor per cell; and in B cells, this is mediated in part by allelic exclusion at the Ig heavy (H) chain locus. How allelic exclusion is regulated is unclear; we considered that sharks, the oldest vertebrates possessing the Ig/TCR-based immune system, would yield insights not previously approachable and reveal the primordial basis of the regulation of allelic exclusion. Sharks have an IgH locus organization consisting of 15-200 independently rearranging miniloci (VH-D1-D2-JH-Cmu), a gene organization that is considered ancestral to the tetrapod and bony fish IgH locus. We found that rearrangement takes place only within a minilocus, and the recombining gene segments are assembled simultaneously and randomly. Only one or few H chain genes were fully rearranged in each shark B cell, whereas the other loci retained their germline configuration. In contrast, most IgH were partially rearranged in every thymocyte (developing T cell) examined, but no IgH transcripts were detected. The distinction between B and T cells in their IgH configurations and transcription reveals a heretofore unsuspected chromatin state permissive for rearrangement in precursor lymphocytes, and suggests that controlled limitation of B cell lineage-specific factors mediate regulated rearrangement and allelic exclusion. This regulation may be shared by higher vertebrates in which additional mechanistic and regulatory elements have evolved with their structurally complex IgH locus.