This study involved 12 patients with multiple myeloma (MM), in whom malignant plasma cells did not contain immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) protein chains. Southern blot analysis revealed monoallelic J(H) gene rearrangements in 10 patients, biallelic rearrangement in 1 patient, and biallelic deletion of the J(H) and C(micro) regions in 1 patient. Heteroduplex polymerase chain reaction analysis enabled the identification and sequencing of 9 clonal J(H) gene rearrangements. Only 4 of the joinings were complete V(H)-(D)-J(H) rearrangements, including 3 in-frame rearrangements with evidence of somatic hypermutation. Five rearrangements concerned incomplete D(H)-J(H) joinings, mainly associated with deletion of the other allele. Curiously, in at least 1 of these 5 cases the second allele seemed to be in germline configuration, whereas the in-frame V(kappa)-J(kappa) gene rearrangements contained somatic mutations. The configuration of the IGH genes was further investigated by use of C(H) probes. In 5 patients the rearrangements in the J(H) and C(H) regions were not concordant, probably caused by illegitimate IGH class switch recombination (chromosomal translocations to 14q32. 3). These data indicate that in many IgH(-) MM patients illegitimate IGH class switch rearrangement or illegitimate deletion of the functional V(H)-(D(H))-J(H) allele are responsible for IgH negativity. For example, the exclusive presence of D(H)-J(H) rearrangements in combination with mutated IGK genes can only be explained in terms of normal B-cell development, if the second (functional) IGH allele is deleted, which was probably the case in most patients. Therefore, defects at the DNA level are responsible for the lack of IgH protein production in most IgH(-) MM patients.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Szczepanski, T., van 't Veer, M., Wolvers-Tettero, I. L., Langerak, A., & van Dongen, J. (2000). Molecular features responsible for the absence of immunoglobulin heavy chain protein synthesis in an IgH(-) subgroup of multiple myeloma. Blood. Retrieved from