Diversity and repertoire of IgW and IgM VH families in the newborn nurse shark

Lynn L Rumfelt, Rebecca L Lohr, Helen Dooley, Martin F Flajnik

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53 Citations (Scopus)
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Adult cartilaginous fish express three immunoglobulin (Ig) isotypes, IgM, IgNAR and IgW. Newborn nurse sharks, Ginglymostoma cirratum, produce 19S (multimeric) IgM and monomeric/dimeric IgM1gj, a germline-joined, IgM-related VH, and very low amounts of 7S (monomeric) IgM and IgNAR proteins. Newborn IgNAR VH mRNAs are diverse in the complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3) with non-templated nucleotide (N-region) addition, which suggests that, unlike in many other vertebrates, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT) expressed at birth is functional. IgW is present in the lungfish, a bony fish sharing a common ancestor with sharks 460 million years ago, implying that the IgW VH family is as old as the IgM VH family. This nurse shark study examined the IgM and IgW VH repertoire from birth through adult life, and analyzed the phylogenetic relationships of these gene families.

IgM and IgW VH cDNA clones isolated from newborn nurse shark primary and secondary lymphoid tissues had highly diverse and unique CDR3 with N-region addition and VDJ gene rearrangement, implicating functional TdT and RAG gene activity. Despite the clear presence of N-region additions, newborn CDR3 were significantly shorter than those of adults. The IgM clones are all included in a conventional VH family that can be classified into five discrete groups, none of which is orthologous to IgM VH genes in other elasmobranchs. In addition, a novel divergent VH family was orthologous to a published monotypic VH horn shark family. IgW VH genes have diverged sufficiently to form three families. IgM and IgW VH serine codons using the potential somatic hypermutation hotspot sequence occur mainly in VH framework 1 (FR1) and CDR1. Phylogenetic analysis of cartilaginous fish and lungfish IgM and IgW demonstrated they form two major ancient gene groups; furthermore, these VH genes generally diversify (duplicate and diverge) within a species.

As in ratfish, sandbar and horn sharks, most nurse shark IgM VH genes are from one family with multiple, heterogeneous loci. Their IgW VH genes have diversified, forming at least three families. The neonatal shark Ig VH CDR3 repertoire, diversified via N-region addition, is shorter than the adult VDJ junction, suggesting one means of postnatal repertoire diversification is expression of longer CDR3 junctions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Number of pages15
JournalBMC Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2004


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