Long-range oncogenic activation of Igh-c-myc translocations by the Igh 3' regulatory region

Nature. 2009 Dec 10;462(7274):803-7. doi: 10.1038/nature08633.


B-cell malignancies, such as human Burkitt's lymphoma, often contain translocations that link c-myc or other proto-oncogenes to the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus (IgH, encoded by Igh). The nature of elements that activate oncogenes within such translocations has been a long-standing question. Translocations within Igh involve DNA double-strand breaks initiated either by the RAG1/2 endonuclease during variable, diversity and joining gene segment (V(D)J) recombination, or by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID, also known as AICDA) during class switch recombination (CSR). V(D)J recombination in progenitor B (pro-B) cells assembles Igh variable region exons upstream of mu constant region (Cmu) exons, which are the first of several sets of C(H) exons ('C(H) genes') within a C(H) locus that span several hundred kilobases (kb). In mature B cells, CSR deletes Cmu and replaces it with a downstream C(H) gene. An intronic enhancer (iEmu) between the variable region exons and Cmu promotes V(D)J recombination in developing B cells. Furthermore, the Igh 3' regulatory region (Igh3'RR) lies downstream of the C(H) locus and modulates CSR by long-range transcriptional enhancement of C(H) genes. Transgenic mice bearing iEmu or Igh3'RR sequences fused to c-myc are predisposed to B lymphomas, demonstrating that such elements can confer oncogenic c-myc expression. However, in many B-cell lymphomas, Igh-c-myc translocations delete iEmu and place c-myc up to 200 kb upstream of the Igh3'RR. Here we address the oncogenic role of the Igh3'RR by inactivating it in two distinct mouse models for B-cell lymphoma with Igh-c-myc translocations. We show that the Igh3'RR is dispensable for pro-B-cell lymphomas with V(D)J recombination-initiated translocations, but is required for peripheral B-cell lymphomas with CSR-associated translocations. As the Igh3'RR is not required for CSR-associated Igh breaks or Igh-c-myc translocations in peripheral B-cell lymphoma progenitors, we conclude that this regulatory region confers oncogenic activity by long-range and developmental stage-specific activation of translocated c-myc genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions / genetics*
  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromosome Breakpoints
  • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte / genetics*
  • Genes, Immunoglobulin Heavy Chain / genetics*
  • Genes, myc / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin Class Switching / genetics
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / genetics*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid / genetics*
  • Translocation, Genetic / genetics*


  • 3' Untranslated Regions