The chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) immunoglobulin repertoire is biased and characterized by the existence of subsets of cases with closely homologous ("stereotyped") complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3) sequences. In the present series, 201 (21.9%) of 916 patients with CLL expressed IGHV genes that belonged to 1 of 48 different subsets of sequences with stereotyped heavy chain (H) CDR3. Twenty-six subsets comprised 3 or more sequences and were considered "confirmed." The remaining subsets comprised pairs of sequences and were considered "potential"; public database CLL sequences were found to be members of 9 of 22 "potential" subsets, thereby allowing us to consider them also "confirmed." The chance of belonging to a subset exceeded 35% for unmutated or selected IGHV genes (eg, IGHV1-69/3-21/4-39). Comparison to non-CLL public database sequences showed that HCDR3 restriction is "CLL-related." CLL cases with selected stereotyped immunoglobulins (IGs) were also found to share unique biologic and clinical features. In particular, cases expressing stereotyped IGHV4-39/IGKV1-39-1D-39 and IGHV4-34/IGKV2-30 were always IgG-switched. In addition, IGHV4-34/ IGKV2-30 patients were younger and followed a strikingly indolent disease, contrasting other patients (eg, those expressing IGHV3-21/IGLV3-21)whoexperienced an aggressive disease, regardless of IGHV mutations. These findings suggest that a particular antigen-binding site can be critical in determining the clinical features and outcome for at least some CLL patients.
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