We have identified at least six EcoRI fragments of mouse DNA that encode variable-region gene sequences closely related to the mouse κ light chain, MOPC-149. Two of these fragments have been cloned, and the entire nucleotide sequence of the variable-region genes encoded on each has been determined. Both genes encode closely related variable-region sequences extending from codon position 1 through position 97. Neither fragment encodes a constant-region sequence. Although both genes are closely related, they differ from one another and from the sequence expressed in the MOPC-149 cell from which they were cloned. These few differences cluster within the complementarity-determining regions although several occur in framework sequences as well. We therefore conclude that an antibody-producing cell contains genetic information corresponding to its expressed sequence and several other closely related but silent sequences. These initial results raise the possibility that similar sets of genes might exist corresponding to each of the many subgroups already identified among mouse κ light chains. If true, this would further suggest that the mouse genome might be rich enough in variable-region genes so as to encode a major portion of the variable-region repertoire.
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