The synthesis and processing of the messenger RNAs specifying heavy and light chain immunoglobulins in MPC-11 cells

Cell. 1978 Dec;15(4):1495-509. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(78)90072-7.


The nuclear precursors of the immunoglobulin messenger RNAs of MPC-11 cells were characterized with respect to size, amount per cell and extent of polyadenylation. These cells produce three Ig mRNAs: a 1.8 kb component coding for a gamma2b heavy chain (H mRNA), a 1.2 kb mRNA coding for a k light chain (L mRNA) and a 0.8 kb mRNA coding for the constant region portion of the k light chain (Lf mRNA). To identify the pre-mRNAs without ambiguity, we constructed recombinant DNA plasmids containing H and L cDNA sequences, and used the cloned cDNAs as hybridization probes for analysis of steady state nuclear RNA and in DNA excess hybridization experiments with pulse-labeled nuclear RNA. The nuclear molecules containing Ig sequences consist of an 11 kb component (H1), which we believe to be the primary transcript of the H gene, 5.3 kb (L1), and 3.3 kb (L2) components, which seem to be primary transcripts of the L and L1 genes, components corresponding to mature size H, L and Lf mRNAs, and several intermediate-sized components which include the processing derivatives. The precursor role of these nuclear molecules was established by studies of their labeling kinetics and by appropriate pulse-chase experiments. All the pre-mRNA species including H1, L1 and L2 contain poly(A), thus suggesting that polyadenylation is an early event in the processing of these mRNAs. The MPC-11 cell contains about 30,000 and 40,000 cytoplasmic H and L mRNA molecules, respectively, which must be produced within one cell generation (approximately 24 hr). In comparison, the nucleus contains about 100-150 molecules of total pre-mRNA and only about 10-15 molecules of presumptive primary transcripts for each of these Ig species. These values indicate very rapid transcription rates (greater than 20 transcripts per min) and exceptionally fast processing rates (approximately 0.5 min for the primary transcripts and approximately 5 min for overall nuclear processing) for the Ig mRNAs. Thus rapid transcription and processing, together with high cytoplasmic stability, account for the high abundance of Ig mRNAs in the myeloma cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin Light Chains / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin gamma-Chains / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin kappa-Chains / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Myeloma Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Myeloma Proteins / genetics
  • Nucleic Acid Precursors / metabolism*
  • Poly A / metabolism
  • RNA, Heterogeneous Nuclear / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains
  • Immunoglobulin Light Chains
  • Immunoglobulin gamma-Chains
  • Immunoglobulin kappa-Chains
  • Myeloma Proteins
  • Nucleic Acid Precursors
  • RNA, Heterogeneous Nuclear
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Poly A