Somatic hypermutation is the most critical mechanism underlying the diversification of Ig genes. Although mutation occurs specifically in B cells during the germinal center reaction, it remains a matter of debate whether the mutation machinery also targets non-Ig genes. We have studied mutations in the 5' noncoding region of the Bcl6 gene in different subtypes of lymphomas. We found frequent hypermutation in follicular lymphoma (25 of 59 = 42%) (germinal center cell origin) and mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma (19 of 45 = 42%) (postgerminal center), but only occasionally in mantle cell lymphoma (1 of 21 = 4.8%) (pregerminal center). Most mutations were outside the motifs potentially important for transcription, suggesting they were not important in lymphomagenesis but may, like Ig mutation, represent an inherent feature of the lymphoma precursor cells. Therefore, we investigated their normal cell counterparts microdissected from a reactive tonsil Bcl6 mutation was found in 13 of 24 (54%) clones from the germinal centre but only in 1 of 24 (4%) clones from the naive B cells of the mantle zone. The frequency, distribution, and nature of these mutations were similar to those resulting from the Ig hypermutation process. The results show unequivocal evidence of non-Ig gene hypermutation in germinal center B cells and provide fresh insights into the process of hypermutation and lymphomagenesis.
|Number of pages||6|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 1 1999|
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