Structure and physical map of 64 variable segments in the 3′ 0.8–megabase region of the human immunoglobulin heavy–chain locus

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We have constructed the physical map of the 0.8 megabase DNA fragment which contains the 3′ 64 variable region (V) gene segments of the human immunoglobulin heavy chain (H) locus. The organization of the VH locus showed several features that indicate dynamic reshuffling of this locus. The sequenced 64 VH segments include 31 pseudogenes, of which 24 are highly conserved except for a few point mutations. Comparison of the 64 germline VH sequences shows that each VH family has conserved sequences, suggesting that there might be some genetic or selection mechanisms involved in maintenance of each family. The total number of the human VH segments was estimated to be about 120, including at least 7 orphons.

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