Polymorphisms in human immunoglobulin heavy chain variable genes and their upstream regions

Nucleic Acids Res. 2020 Jun 4;48(10):5499-5510. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkaa310.


Germline variations in immunoglobulin genes influence the repertoire of B cell receptors and antibodies, and such polymorphisms may impact disease susceptibility. However, the knowledge of the genomic variation of the immunoglobulin loci is scarce. Here, we report 25 potential novel germline IGHV alleles as inferred from rearranged naïve B cell cDNA repertoires of 98 individuals. Thirteen novel alleles were selected for validation, out of which ten were successfully confirmed by targeted amplification and Sanger sequencing of non-B cell DNA. Moreover, we detected a high degree of variability upstream of the V-REGION in the 5'UTR, L-PART1 and L-PART2 sequences, and found that identical V-REGION alleles can differ in upstream sequences. Thus, we have identified a large genetic variation not only in the V-REGION but also in the upstream sequences of IGHV genes. Our findings provide a new perspective for annotating immunoglobulin repertoire sequencing data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 5' Untranslated Regions
  • Alleles
  • Codon, Initiator
  • Genes, Immunoglobulin Heavy Chain*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • TATA Box


  • 5' Untranslated Regions
  • Codon, Initiator
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region