Tracing CLL-biased stereotyped immunoglobulin gene rearrangements in normal B cell subsets using a high-throughput immunogenetic approach

Monica Colombo, Davide Bagnara, Daniele Reverberi, Serena Matis, Martina Cardillo, Rosanna Massara, Luca Mastracci, Jean Louis Ravetti, Luca Agnelli, Antonino Neri, Michela Mazzocco, Margherita Squillario, Andrea Nicola Mazzarello, Giovanna Cutrona, Andreas Agathangelidis, Kostas Stamatopoulos, Manlio Ferrarini, Franco Fais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: B cell receptor Immunoglobulin (BcR IG) repertoire of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is characterized by the expression of quasi-identical BcR IG. These are observed in approximately 30% of patients, defined as stereotyped receptors and subdivided into subsets based on specific VH CDR3 aa motifs and phylogenetically related IGHV genes. Although relevant to CLL ontogeny, the distribution of CLL-biased stereotyped immunoglobulin rearrangements (CBS-IG) in normal B cells has not been so far specifically addressed using modern sequencing technologies. Here, we have investigated the presence of CBS-IG in splenic B cell subpopulations (s-BCS) and in CD5+ and CD5- B cells from the spleen and peripheral blood (PB). Methods: Fractionation of splenic B cells into 9 different B cell subsets and that of spleen and PB into CD5+ and CD5- cells were carried out by FACS sorting. cDNA sequences of BcR IG gene rearrangements were obtained by NGS. Identification of amino acidic motifs typical of CLL stereotyped subsets was carried out on IGHV1-carrying gene sequences and statistical evaluation has been subsequently performed to assess stereotypes distribution. Results: CBS-IG represented the 0.26% average of IGHV1 genes expressing sequences, were detected in all of the BCS investigated. CBS-IG were more abundant in splenic and circulating CD5+ B (0.57%) cells compared to CD5- B cells (0.17%). In all instances, most CBS IG did not exhibit somatic hypermutation similar to CLL stereotyped receptors. However, compared to CLL, they exhibited a different CLL subset distribution and a broader utilization of the genes of the IGHV1 family. Conclusions: CBS-IG receptors appear to represent a part of the "public" BcR repertoire in normal B cells. This repertoire is observed in all BCS excluding the hypothesis that CLL stereotyped BcR accumulate in a specific B cell subset, potentially capable of originating a leukemic clone. The different relative representation of CBS-IG in normal B cell subgroups suggests the requirement for additional selective processes before a full transformation into CLL is achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalMolecular Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 10 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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