We characterized 239 lambda rearrangements from fetal and germfree (GF) piglets to: (1) determine if transcripts recovered from the earliest sites of B cell lymphogenesis were unique (2) determine what proportion of the genome is used to form the pre-immune repertoire (3) estimate the degree of somatic hypermutation and junctional diversity during ontogeny and (4) test whether piglets maintained germfree in isolators (GF piglets) have a more diversified repertoire than fetal piglets. We show that all expressed lambda genes belong to the IGLV3 and IGLV8 families and only IGLJ2 and IGLJ3 were expressed and used equally throughout fetal and neonatal life. Only genes of the IGLV8 family were used in yolk sac and fetal liver and in these tissues, IGLV8-10 comprised >50%. However, the IGLV8 genes recovered at these early sites of B cell lymphogenesis were recovered at all stages of development. Thus, no unique lambda rearrangement was recovered at the first sites of B cell development. The frequency of somatic hypermutation (SHM) in fetal piglets was ~5.9 per Kb equivalent, mutation were concentrated in CDR regions and did not increase in GF piglets. The average CDR3 length was 30 nt ± 2.7 and did not change in GF piglets. Similar to the heavy chain pre-immune repertoire in this species, three IGLV genes account for ~70% of the repertoire. Unlike the heavy chain repertoire, junctional diversity was very limited.
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