The I.29 B cell lymphoma consists of IgM+ and IgA+ cells which express the same germ-line VH gene. IgA+ cells of the I.29 lymphoma were derived from the IgM+ cells by a typical H chain switch recombination event. The IgM+ cells can be induced with LPS to undergo H chain switching in culture. It has been proposed that the somatic hypermutation process is activated during H chain switch, since V genes expressed in IgG+ and IgA+ cells have more frequently undergone mutation than those expressed in IgM+ cells. We have investigated this question by sequencing VH genes expressed before and after H chain switch in the I.29 lymphoma. We have also sequenced the germ-line VH gene corresponding to the gene expressed by I.29 cells to determine whether the VH gene expressed in the IgM+ cells had already undergone somatic mutation. Our results indicate that somatic mutation was not activated in the precursor cell for the I.29 lymphoma, nor during isotype switch in I.29 cells. It is possible that cells of the I.29 lymphoma, or their precursor, have not received the signal which induces somatic mutation, or that I.29 cells belong to a subset of B cells that cannot be induced to undergo any (or much) somatic mutation.

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