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A B cell-deficient mouse by targeted disruption of the membrane exon of the immunoglobulin μ chain gene


OF the various classes of antibodies that B lymphocytes can produce, class M (IgM) is the first to be expressed on the membrane of the developing cells. Pre-B cells, the precursors of B-lymphocytes, produce the heavy chain of IgM (μ chain), but not light chains1. Recent data suggest that pre-B cells express μ chains on the membrane together with the 'surrogate' light chains λ5 and VpreB (refs 2–7). This complex could control pre-B-cell differentiation, in particular the rearrangement of the light-chain genes8. We have now assessed the importance of the membrane form of the μ chain in B-cell development by generating mice lacking this chain. We disrupted one of the membrane exons of the gene encoding the μ-chain constant region by gene targeting9 in mouse embryonic stem cells10. From these cells we derived mice heterozygous or homozygous for the mutation. B-cell development in the heterozygous mice seemed to be normal, but in homozygous animals B cells were absent, their development already being arrested at the stage of pre-B-cell maturation.


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Kitamura, D., Roes, J., Kühn, R. et al. A B cell-deficient mouse by targeted disruption of the membrane exon of the immunoglobulin μ chain gene. Nature 350, 423–426 (1991).

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