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University of Alberta
Immunology and Infection

LECTURE #6 – B CELL DEVELOPMENT After studying lecture #6, you should be familiar with the following concepts. 1. Somatic Recombination. B lymphocytes are predicted to generate a large number of 11 distinct antigen receptors (approximately 1 X 10 ). This is made possible through a process known as somatic recombination. The BCR locus does not contain a linear arrangement of 1 X 10 11 genes. Instead, the BCR locus consists of a sequential arrangement of gene segments. For example, the Ig Heavy chain locus consists of tandem arrangements of variable (V), diversity (D) and joining (J) gene segments. There are approximately 100 V segments, 27 D segments and 6 J segments. During B cell development a single D segment combines with a single J segment. The DJ segment then combines with a single V segment. The choice of gene segments for each recombination event is entirely random. The result is a VDJ segment that encodes the antigen-binding variable domain of the mature heavy chain of the BCR/Ig. A similar event occurs at the light chain, with the exception that light chains lack D gene segments. Each recombination event generates a novel BCR/Ig variable region with a novel antigen specificity. 2. B Cell Development. B cells develop from bone marrow stem cells. Somatic recombination occurs in the bone marrow to generate a mature, naïve B cell. Naïve B cells exit the bone marrow and enter peripheral lymphoid organs in search of antigen. B cells that fail to encounter antigen undergo apoptosis. B cells that encounte
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