Activation of an excluded immunoglobulin allele in a human B lymphoma cell line

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Science  21 Apr 1989:
Vol. 244, Issue 4902, pp. 337-339
DOI: 10.1126/science.2496466


Mature B cells that express surface immunoglobulin (Ig) are usually committed to their original Ig product. It was shown that such a cell can replace its light chain by rearranging and expressing a new light chain from the other allele. Anti-idiotype antibodies were used to isolate idiotypic variants from a surface IgM+lambda+ human B cell tumor line. The variants expressed a new lambda light chain. Both the original and the new lambda transcripts were present in the variant cells, but only the new one was expressed as a protein on the cell surface. Therefore, although the cell exhibited allelic exclusion and had only one Ig receptor at a time, the commitment to a particular light chain gene was reversible.

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