The rabbit is useful for studies of Ig L chain gene expression because of a great disparity in expression of two isotypic forms of the kappa L chain. Normally, K1 is expressed at high levels and K2 is almost silent; expression of K2 increases in mutant or experimentally allotype-suppressed animals. The reasons for the preferential utilization of the K1 isotype have not been fully elucidated. We were interested in looking for second enhancers 3' of the C kappa genes because the absence of a 3' enhancer in the K2 locus could explain the preferential utilization of the K1 isotype. However, we found a strong region of enhancer activity about 7 kb downstream of the C kappa 2 gene. Sequences in this region are highly conserved between rabbit, man, and mouse. There also appears to be a homologous 3' enhancer region in the rabbit K1 locus. We also confirmed earlier reports that the rabbit K1 intron enhancer is inactive in transient transfections into mouse B cells but find that the same construct has low but significant activity in a human B cell line. In a comparable construct the K2 intron enhancer is without activity suggesting possible differential activity of the intronic enhancers.

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