The human neonatal B cell response to respiratory syncytial virus uses a biased antibody variable gene repertoire that lacks somatic mutations.

Williams JV, Weitkamp JH, Blum DL, LaFleur BJ, Crowe JE
Mol Immunol. 2009 47 (2-3): 407-14

PMID: 19804909 · PMCID: PMC2788105 · DOI:10.1016/j.molimm.2009.08.024

The human Ab repertoire exhibits restrictions during fetal life characterized by biases of variable gene segment usage and lack of junctional diversity. We tested the hypotheses that Ab repertoire restriction persists in the early postnatal period and contributes to the observed poor quality of specific Ab responses made by neonates to viruses and vaccines. We analyzed the molecular determinants of B cell responses in humans to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Analysis of the variable gene segment usage of adult RSV-specific B cells revealed a repertoire profile in these cells similar to that seen in randomly selected B cells, which was V(H)3-dominant. Four gene segments (V(H)3-23, V(H)3-30, V(H)3-33 and V(H)4-04) accounted for almost half of the V(H) genes used. In contrast, very young infant RSV-specific antibodies exhibited a biased repertoire characterized by comparable use of the V(H)1, V(H)3, and V(H)4 families, and less common use of the four immunodominant gene segments. Infants and children older than three months used an antibody repertoire similar to that of adults. Mutational analysis revealed that the antibody variable genes of infants under three months of age also possessed significantly fewer somatic mutations in both framework and complementarity-determining region (CDR) regions than those of adults, even in a child with recurrent RSV infection. These data suggest that neonates use a biased antibody gene repertoire that is less V(H)3-focused and that possesses a dramatically lower frequency of somatic mutations. These biased features of the RSV-specific repertoire likely contribute to the poor functional Ab response in very young infants.

MeSH Terms (19)

Adult Antibodies Antibody Specificity B-Lymphocytes Cell Separation Child Complementarity Determining Regions Flow Cytometry Humans Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains Immunoglobulin Light Chains Immunoglobulin Variable Region Infant Infant, Newborn Lymphocyte Count Mutagenesis, Insertional Mutation Respiratory Syncytial Viruses Species Specificity

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