, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 386-393

Characterization of horse (Equus caballus) immunoglobulin mu chain-encoding genes

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 Horse (Equus caballus) immunoglobulin mu chain-encoding (IgM) variable, joining, and constant gene segments were cloned and characterized. Nucleotide sequence analyses of 15 cDNA clones from a mesenteric lymph node library identified 7 unique variable gene segments, 5 separate joining segments, and a single constant region. Based on comparison with human sequences, horse variable segments could be grouped into either family 1 of immunoglobulin (Ig) clan I or family 4 of Ig clan II subclan IV. All horse sequences had a relatively conserved 16 base pair (bp) segment in framework 3 which was recognized with high specificity in polymerase chain reaction by a degenerate oligonucleotide primer. Horse complementarity determining regions (CDR) had considerable variability in predicted amino acid content and length but also included the presence of relatively conserved residues and several canonical sequences that may be necessary in formation of the β chain main structure and conformation of antigen-binding sites through interaction with light chain CDR. Sequence analysis of joining regions revealed the presence of nearly invariant 3′ regions similar to those found in human and mouse genes. A single horse IgM constant region comprising 1472 bp and encoding 451 residues was also identified. Direct comparison of the horse constant region predicted amino acid sequence with those from eleven other species revealed the presence of 53 invariant residues with particularly conserved sequences within the third and fourth exons. Phylogenetic analysis using a neighbor-joining algorithm showed closest similarity of the horse mu chain-encoding constant region gene to human and dog sequences. Together, these findings provide insights into the comparative biology of IgM as well as data for additional detailed studies of the horse immune system and investigation of immune-related diseases.

Received: 14 October 1996 / Revised: 10 December 1996