Intraclonal diversification of immunoglobulin light chains in a subset of chronic lymphocytic leukemia alludes to antigen-driven clonal evolution

Leukemia. 2010 Jul;24(7):1317-24. doi: 10.1038/leu.2010.90. Epub 2010 May 13.


The study of intraclonal diversification (ID) in immunoglobulin (IG) genes offers valuable insight into the role of ongoing interactions with antigen in lymphomagenesis. We recently showed that ID in the IG heavy chain genes of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) was generally limited; however, intense ID was evident in selected cases, especially those expressing stereotyped IGHV4-34 rearrangements and assigned to subset 4. Here, we report results from a large-scale subcloning study of IG light variable genes, in a total of 1008 subcloned sequences from 56 CLL cases. Multiple analogies were noted between heavy and light chains regarding the occurrence and molecular features of ID. More specifically, the impact of ID on the clonotypic light chains was generally low, with the significant exception of subset 4. Similar to the IGHV4-34 heavy chains of this subset, their partner IGKV2-30 light chains were affected by an active and precisely targeted ID process. Altogether, these findings strengthen the argument that stereotypy in subset 4 extends to stereotyped ID patterns for both heavy and light chains through persistent antigenic stimulation. Furthermore, they strongly suggest that light chains have an active role in the antigen selection process, at least for certain subsets of CLL cases.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clone Cells
  • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte, Heavy Chain
  • Genes, Immunoglobulin / genetics*
  • Genes, Immunoglobulin / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin Light Chains / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin Light Chains / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / immunology
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / genetics*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / immunology
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / pathology
  • Prognosis


  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains
  • Immunoglobulin Light Chains
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region