The structurally complex antigen dinitrophenylated bovine γ globulin (DNP-BGG) was used to study the immune response of neonatal rabbits. The results of these studies indicated that neonates frequently produce structurally restricted anti-DNP antibody. The isoelectric spectra of certain of these antibodies resembled myeloma proteins or antibodies produced by cell clones. The binding characteristics of these antibodies were consistent with monoclonality or structural homogeneity. An examination of anti-DNP antibody produced by littermates demonstrated that there was no simple genetic control or antibody heterogeneity early in life. Each neonate possessed the potential for anti-DNP antibody production with a differing capacity to express this potential. The results were consistent with the presence at birth of an extensive set of germ-line variable-region genes. while the element of somatic diversity could not be ruled out, somatic processes probably added little to the extent of antibody diversity present in the neonate.

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