Receptor revision of immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region genes in normal human B lymphocytes
Contrary to the general precepts of the clonal selection theory, several recent studies have provided evidence for the secondary rearrangement of immunoglobulin (Ig) genes in peripheral lymphoid tissues. These analyses typically used transgenic mouse models and have only detected secondary recombination of Ig light chain genes. Although Ig heavy chain variable region (V(H)) genes encode a substantial element of antibody combining site specificity, there is scant evidence for V(H) gene rearrangement in the periphery, leaving the physiological importance of peripheral recombination questionable. The extensive somatic mutations and clonality of the IgD(+)Strictly-IgM(-)CD38(+) human tonsillar B cell subpopulation have now allowed detection of the first clear examples of receptor revision of human V(H) genes. The revised VDJ genes contain "hybrid" V(H) gene segments consisting of portions from two separate germline V(H) genes, a phenomenon previously only detected due to the pressures of a transgenic system.