Unequal VH gene rearrangement frequency within the large VH7183 gene family is not due to recombination signal sequence variation, and mapping of the genes shows a bias of rearrangement based on chromosomal location
Much of the nonrandom usage of V, D, and J genes in the Ab repertoire is due to different frequencies with which gene segments undergo V(D)J rearrangement. The recombination signal sequences flanking each segment are seldom identical with consensus sequences, and this natural variation in recombination signal sequence (RSS) accounts for some differences in rearrangement frequencies in vivo. Here, we have sequenced the RSS of 19 individual V(H)7183 genes, revealing that the majority have one of two closely related RSS. One group has a consensus heptamer, and the other has a nonconsensus heptamer. In vitro recombination substrate studies show that the RSS with the nonconsensus heptamer, which include the frequently rearranging 81X, rearrange less well than the RSS with the consensus heptamer. Although 81X differs from the other 7183-I genes at three positions in the spacer, this does not significantly increase its recombination potency in vitro. The rearrangement frequency of all members of the family was determined in microMT mice, and there was no correlation between the in vitro recombination potential and V(H) gene rearrangement frequency in vivo. Furthermore, genes with identical RSS rearrange at different frequencies in vivo. This demonstrates that other factors can override differences in RSS potency in vivo. We have also determined the gene order of all V(H)7183 genes in a bacterial artificial chromosome contig and show that most of the frequently rearranging genes are in the 3' half of the region. This suggests that chromosomal location plays an important role in nonrandom rearrangement of the V(H)7183 genes.