During B cell maturation, the complex process of immunoglobulin (IG) gene V(D)J recombination coupled with somatic hypermutation (SHM) gives rise to a unique DNA sequence within each individual B cell. Since B cell malignancies result from the clonal expansion of a single cell, IG genes represent a unique molecular signature common to all the malignant cells within an individual patient; thus, IG gene rearrangements can be used as clonal markers. In addition to serving as an important clonal identifier, the IG gene sequence can act as a 'molecular timeline' since it is associated with specific developmental stages and hence reflects the history of the B cell involved in the neoplastic transformation. Moreover, for certain malignancies, in particular chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the IG gene sequence holds prognostic and potentially predictive capabilities. That said, extrapolating meaningful conclusions from IG gene sequence analysis would be impossible if robust methods and tools were not available to aid in their analysis. This article, drawing on the vast experience of the European Research Initiative on CLL (ERIC), details the technical aspects and essential requirements necessary to ensure reliable and reproducible IG gene sequence analysis in CLL, a test that is now recommended for all CLL patients prior to treatment. More specifically, the various analytical stages are described ranging from the identification of the clonotypic IG gene rearrangement and the determination of the nucleotide sequence to the accurate clinical interpretation of the IG gene sequence data.

Cancer research, Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), Complementarity determining region 3 (CDR3), Immunoglobulin, Immunoglobulin heavy variable (IGHV), International immunogenetics information system (IMGT), Issue 141, Somatic hypermutation (SHM)
dx.doi.org/10.3791/57787, hdl.handle.net/1765/113066
Journal of Visualized Experiments
Department of Immunology

Agathangelidis, A, Sutton, L.-A, Hadzidimitriou, A, Tresoldi, S, Langerak, A.W, Belessi, C, … Ghia, P. (2018). Immunoglobulin gene sequence analysis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia: From patient material to sequence interpretation. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2018(141). doi:10.3791/57787