The J chain gene is transcribed during B and T lymphopoiesis in humans

J Immunol. 1996 Jun 1;156(11):4240-4.


In mice and chickens, J chain appears to be expressed only in activated B cells and plasma cells. In humans, studies based mainly on transformed cells suggest that J chain expression may initiate during earlier stages in B lineage differentiation. In the present study, we isolated a series of hematopoietic subpopulations from human fetal and adult tissues by immunofluorescence cell sorting and examined each subpopulation for J chain expression by reverse transcriptase-PCR. In fetal and adult bone marrow, J chain transcripts were detected at all stages of B lineage differentiation, including the progenitor (CD34+/CD19-) and pro-B (CD34+/CD19+) cell subpopulations. J chain mRNA was also detected during fetal thymocyte development: double negative (CD4-/CD8-) through single positive (CD4+ or CD8+) cell subpopulations. The J chain message was not detected in peripheral CD3+ T cells, CD14+ monocytes, and CD56+ NK cells from either fetal or adult samples. The nucleotide sequence of J chain PCR products from CD34+/CD19- bone marrow progenitors and CD4+/CD8- thymocytes proved identical to the previously reported sequence of functionally spliced J chain mRNA. These results suggest that the J chain gene is transcriptionally active during early stages of both B cell and T cell differentiation, before the expression of their respective Ag receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Fetus / cytology
  • Fetus / immunology
  • Genes, Immunoglobulin*
  • Hematopoiesis / genetics*
  • Hematopoiesis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin J-Chains / genetics*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA Primers
  • Immunoglobulin J-Chains
  • RNA, Messenger