The 8.12 idiotype characterizes a subpopulation of anti-DNA antibodies in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The idiotype is present on lambda light chains and has previously been shown to be exclusively encoded by V lambda II light chains. RFLP analysis of the V lambda II gene family has shown the family to consist of 10 to 15 members. Thus far, the sequences of seven V lambda II germline genes are reported in the literature with one of these a pseudogene. To identify the V lambda II genes that encode 8.12 positive antibodies and to further characterize the V lambda II family, germline V lambda II clones were derived from a patient with SLE. Two libraries were constructed: a genomic DNA library and a library of PCR-derived V lambda II gene products obtained using a conserved V lambda II leader region primer and a primer for the nonamer region 3' of the coding sequence. We now describe seven new germline genes, two of which are pseudogenes. Comparison of V lambda II germline genes to sequences of 8.12 positive light chains produced by EBV-transformed B cell lines show that all 8.12 positive light chains are encoded by a limited number of highly homologous members of the V lambda II family. 8.12 negative V lambda II encoded light chains also derive from a limited number of V lambda II genes, suggesting that only a subset of the apparently available V lambda II genes are commonly expressed.
M Irigoyen, A Manheimer-Lory, B Gaynor, B Diamond