Isotype-switched immunoglobulin genes with a high load of somatic hypermutation and lack of ongoing mutational activity are prevalent in mediastinal B-cell lymphoma.

PMID 11675349


Primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma (PMBL) is a subentity of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma with characteristic clinical, histomorphologic, immunophenotypical, and genetic features. Unlike other B-cell lymphomas, PMBL has not yet been the subject of comprehensive molecular studies on the rearranged immunoglobulin (Ig) gene. Such investigations have proved essential to obtaining information about the differentiation stage of the lymphomagenic B cell. In the present study, the clonally rearranged immunoglobulin heavy-chain gene of 13 PMBL cases is analyzed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in conjunction with cloning and DNA sequencing. Twelve of 13 rearrangements were potentially functional. All clonally rearranged immunoglobulin genes bore a high load of somatic mutations (average, 13.0%), which appeared to be selected for a functional antibody in the majority of cases. The comparison of cloned PCR products revealed no evidence of ongoing mutation of the immunoglobulin variable gene. By means of reverse-transcriptase PCR, lymphoma-specific immunoglobulin transcripts were detected in 8 of 13 cases, all of which were of the postswitched type, whereas immunoglobulin protein expression was undetectable except for 1 case. A PMBL cell line, MedB-1, generated from an IgG(-) parental tumor, constitutively expressed IgG protein in a subset of cells, which was moderately suppressed by interleukin-4 and up-regulated in the presence of dexamethasone. PMBL is thus characterized by a heavily mutated, class-switched immunoglobulin gene without evidence of ongoing mutational activity. Moreover, our data indirectly suggest that regulation by extrinsic signals contributes to the immunoglobulin-negative phenotype of PMBL.

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