Immunogenetic analysis of mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) has offered important evidence helping to decipher the immune pathways leading to its development and also prompting a reappraisal of the views about its ontogeny. In particular, older and more recent studies have demonstrated that MCL is characterized by a highly distinctive immunoglobulin gene repertoire with remarkable predominance of the IGHV3-21 and IGHV4-34 genes; restricted associations of IGHV, IGHD and IGHJ genes, culminating in the creation of quasi-identical ("stereotyped") heavy complementarity-determining region 3 sequences in roughly 10% of cases; and, very precisely targeted and, probably, functionally driven somatic hypermutation, ranging from minimal (in most cases) to pronounced. Furthermore, comparison to other entities, in particular CLL, revealed that several of these immunogenetic features are "MCL-biased". On these grounds, an antigen-driven origin of MCL could be envisaged, at least for subsets of cases.
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