We report an unusual phenotype of B cells in a patient with X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA), and cellular evidence for Lyonization of B cells from his mother and sister. The patient has a failure of B cell maturation at the stage of early B lymphocytes, associated with production of D(mu delta) H chain. The phenotype of his B cells includes: (a) limitation to expression of the mu and delta H chain isotypes, (b) production of mu and delta H chains of reduced size and (c) delayed expression of L chain. Peripheral blood and B cell lines from the patient's mother and sister include 50% cells that express H chain without L chain. B cell lines from the mother and sister produce full-length mu and gamma H chains and truncated mu and delta chains corresponding to the H chains produced by the patient's B cells. Clones with normal and XLA phenotype have been isolated from B cell lines derived from the patient's mother. We conclude that the dimorphism of mother's and sister's B cells results from Lyonization, implying that the gene defect in XLA is intrinsic to B lymphocytes.


J Schwaber, J Payne, R Chen


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