A subgroup of human VH3 germline genes that encode a high-avidity synovial rheumatoid factor

Alice Wong, Robert Tait, Thomas Kenny, Fredric A Gorin, Dick Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We have previously derived and identified a highly avid monoclonal IgM rheumatoid factor (mRF), C6, from unstimulated rheumatoid synovial cells (RSC). At the time, the closest VH germline gene, VH26, demonstrated only 88% homology with C6. To identify the germline counterpart of C6, genomic DNA from the same rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient from whom C6 was derived was used in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Four of the six closely related germline genes that we sequenced had exonic regions that were identical with the VH region of C6 cDNA. These six germline sequences differed in their intronic regions, suggesting that they were distinct, but closely related genomic sequences. To further evaluate the extent of these related genes we identified nine additional germline genes having VH-encoding exons that were 86-97% identical to the C6 cDNA sequence. Furthermore, we examined the polymorphic nature of the C6 VH gene using single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP), and identified two peaks, confirming the existence of highly homologous genes. The sequence and polymorphism data suggest that: (1) the VH region of the high avidity mRF C6 was derived from an unmutated germline gene; (2) C6 was encoded by a VH gene belonging to a set of homologous genes within the larger VH3 family; and (3) in addition to somatic rearrangements of B-cell genes and antigen-driven somatic mutation, gene duplication and conversion events of germline genes could be important in generating diversity and polyclonality among high-affinity pathogenic autoantibodies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-199
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1995


  • Gene polymorphisms
  • Germline genes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rheumatoid factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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