Somatic mutation of immunoglobulin (Ig) genes plays an important role in generating antibody diversity. The frequency of somatic mutation appears to vary throughout life. However, this process has been difficult to study in vivo because the DNA in and around rearranged V genes undergoes random mutation, causing silent or replacement mutations. Therefore, we have developed a transgenic mouse model for studying the frequency of B cells exhibiting mutation in young and old mice. The system is based on a reporter transgene (HuG-X) that encodes a chimeric Ig heavy chain composed of a murine VDJ segment and a human IgG1 constant region. The VDJ has been mutated to contain a TAG stop codon in the D segment. Therefore, the transgene is transcribed but not translated. Point mutation of the stop codon results in expression of the chimeric H chain, which is readily detected as human IgG1 expression. In vivo, we found that the transgene undergoes spontaneous reverse somatic mutation at a low frequency. Treatment of HuG-X mice with anti-IgD greatly increases the frequency of somatic mutation. The observed mutation frequency in anti-IgD-treated mice increases with age until adulthood, then plateaux and finally declines in aged mice. The mutations in the stop codon were associated with increased double-stranded DNA breaks (DSB) within and around the TAG site. Our results demonstrate that the rate of frequency of spontaneous reverse mutation is very low in vivo, yet it is significantly increased after stimulation with anti-IgD antibodies. The frequency of point mutation is age dependent and correlates with increased DSB.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology