Diversity and somatic hypermutation of the Ig VHDJH, VκJκ, and VλJλ gene segments in lymphoma B cells: Relevance to the origin of the neoplastic B cell clone

Piersandro Riboldi, Wataru Ikematsu, Benedetta Brambilla, Claudia Caprani, Maria Gerosa, Paolo Casali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) is a malignancy of B cells characterized by chromosomal translocations involving the immunoglobulin (Ig) and c-MYC gene loci. To address the putative role of antigen in the clonal expansion of these neoplastic B cells, we analyzed the VHDJH and VLJL gene segments expressed by the established cell lines derived from six endemic BL and six sporadic BL. Eight BL cell lines used genes of the VH3 family, two of the VH4, and two of the VH1. Eight VL chains were κ (four members of the Vκ3, two of the Vκ1, and two of the Vκ2 subgroups) and four λ (three members of the Vλ1 and one of the Vλ3 subgroup). The VH gene utilization was stochastic (i.e., it reflected the relative representation of the different VH gene family members in the human haploid genome). In contrast, the VL gene utilization was skewed toward the overutilization of the Vκ3 and Vλ1 gene subgroups. When compared with those of the respective germline genes, the sequences of the expressed Ig V(D)J genes displayed nucleotide differences that resulted from somatic hypermutation. In three endemic and three sporadic BL cells, nucleotide changes yielding amino acid substitutions segregated within the complementarity determining region, indicating the application of a positive pressure for replacement mutations and suggesting that these neoplastic lymphocytes underwent a process of clonal selection driven by antigen, perhaps emerging from or transitioning through germinal centers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-81
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • B lymphocytes
  • Burkitt's lymphoma
  • Somatic mutations
  • V genes
  • V genes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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