Analysis of Somatic Hypermutation in the JH4 intron of Germinal Center B cells from Mouse Peyer's Patches

Emily Sible1, Simin Zheng2, Jee Eun Choi1, Bao Q. Vuong1
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Within the germinal centers of lymphoid organs, mature B cells alter their expressed immunoglobulin (Ig) by introducing untemplated mutations into the variable coding exons of the Ig heavy and light chain gene loci. This process of somatic hypermutation (SHM) requires the enzyme activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), which converts deoxycytidines (C), into deoxyuridines (U). Processing the AID-generated U:G mismatches into mutations by the base excision and mismatch repair pathways introduces new Ig coding sequences that may produce a higher affinity Ig. Mutations in AID or DNA repair genes can block or significantly alter the types of mutations observed in the Ig loci. We describe a protocol to quantify JH4 intron mutations that uses fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS), PCR, and Sanger sequencing. Although this assay does not directly measure Ig affinity maturation, it is indicative of mutations in Ig variable coding sequences. Additionally, the methods utilize common molecular biological techniques and analyzes mutations in Ig sequences of multiple B cell clones. Thus, this assay is an invaluable tool in the study of SHM and Ig diversification.