Objective: Understanding the molecular genetic basis for rheumatoid factor (RF) production is necessary to a better understanding of the etiology and pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We sought to define the genetic basis of RF in RA.
Methods: The heavy and light chain variable region genes encoding 4 human monoclonal RF were cloned and sequenced using the polymerase chain reaction and the dideoxynucleotide chain-termination method.
Results: The heavy and light chains of the C6 RF and the light chain of the G9 RF were encoded by 3 new RF-related Ig V-region genes. The heavy and light chains of D5 and G4 RFs were identical; most of their mutations caused amino acid substitutions.
Conclusions: The RF-related Ig V-region gene repertoire is large and is still expanding. The data from D5 and G4 strongly suggest that these 2 RFs arise in an antigen-driven response in rheumatoid synovium. The presumed germline V genes for C6 may represent disease-specific RF-related V genes.