Deep sequencing of the murine IgH repertoire reveals complex regulation of nonrandom V gene rearrangement frequencies

J Immunol. 2013 Sep 1;191(5):2393-402. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1301279. Epub 2013 Jul 29.


A diverse Ab repertoire is formed through the rearrangement of V, D, and J segments at the IgH (Igh) loci. The C57BL/6 murine Igh locus has >100 functional VH gene segments that can recombine to a rearranged DJH. Although the nonrandom usage of VH genes is well documented, it is not clear what elements determine recombination frequency. To answer this question, we conducted deep sequencing of 5'-RACE products of the Igh repertoire in pro-B cells, amplified in an unbiased manner. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing results for several histone modifications and RNA polymerase II binding, RNA-sequencing for sense and antisense noncoding germline transcripts, and proximity to CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) and Rad21 sites were compared with the usage of individual V genes. Computational analyses assessed the relative importance of these various accessibility elements. These elements divide the Igh locus into four epigenetically and transcriptionally distinct domains, and our computational analyses reveal different regulatory mechanisms for each region. Proximal V genes are relatively devoid of active histone marks and noncoding RNA in general, but having a CTCF site near their recombination signal sequence is critical, suggesting that being positioned near the base of the chromatin loops is important for rearrangement. In contrast, distal V genes have higher levels of histone marks and noncoding RNA, which may compensate for their poorer recombination signal sequences and for being distant from CTCF sites. Thus, the Igh locus has evolved a complex system for the regulation of V(D)J rearrangement that is different for each of the four domains that comprise this locus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte, Heavy Chain / genetics*
  • Genes, Immunoglobulin Heavy Chain / genetics*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE47766
  • GEO/GSE47885