Immunoglobulins made by chickens bursectomized in ovo on day 11 of incubation were studied by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. All such bursectomized chickens have limited diversity in their immunoglobulin molecules. A range of different degrees of diversity restriction was found in individual bursectomized chickens. The limited immunoglobulin diversity was stable for at least 20 weeks in that the same spots were found over this time span. Bursectomized chickens that responded to repeated antigen challenge had sheep erythrocyte- and dinitrophenol-specific antibodies of limited diversity. Different bursectomized responders made almost identical antigen-specific antibodies. The results were interpreted as indicating that individual bursectomized birds had been blocked at different points during the developmental generation of immunoglobulin diversity, and that the genetic mechanisms that underlie the developmental diversification of clones of B cells lead to a sequential generation of very similar antibody molecules in different embryos.

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This work was supported by the United States Public Health Service.

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