Organization of the IGHV genes (n=108) on single human chromosomes has been determined by detecting these sequences in single sperm using multiplex PCR amplification followed by microarray detection. A total of 374 single sperm samples from five Caucasian males were studied. Three deletion/insertion polymorphisms (Del I-Del III) with deletion allele frequencies ranging from 0.1 to 0.3 were identified. Del I is a previously reported polymorphism affecting three IGHV genes (IGHV1-8, IGHV3-9, and IGHV2-10). Del II affects a region 2-18 kb containing two pseudogenes IGHV(II)-28.1 and IGHV3-29, and Del III spans approximately 21-53 kb involving genes IGHV4-39, IGHV7-40, IGHV(II)-40-1, and IGHV3-41. Deletion alleles of both Dels II and III were found in a heterozygous state, and therefore, could not be easily detected if haploid samples were not used in the study. Results of the present study indicate that deletions/insertions together with other possible chromosomal rearrangements may play an important role in forming the genetic structure of the IGHV region, and may significantly contribute to antibody diversity. Since these three polymorphisms are located within or next to the 3' half of the IGHV region, they may have an important role in the expressed IGHV gene repertoire during immune response.
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