Gene conversion has been suggested as the basis for many VH allelic differences, particularly in the murine VHS107 family. Whether conversion among IgVH genes is likely to have occurred in outbred populations has not been directly addressed. The CLA-2/Cn and WSA strains, which were recently and independently derived from a feral population exhibiting low responsiveness to PC, provide the opportunity to approach this question. In previous studies, the heavy chain cDNA sequence of a PC-specific hybridoma derived from CLA-2/Cn suggested gene conversion events within the VHS107 family. Accordingly, we have examined the germline VHS107 genes of CLA-2/Cn and WSA. The results indicate that: (a) The CLA-2 and WSA strains bear an identical but novel VHS107 family haplotype, which lacks a V3 element and contains a V1, a V13, and two V11 genes; (b) low PC responsiveness in these populations is unlikely due to an inability to express the V1 member of the VHS107 gene family; and (c) when compared with the other known VHS107 haplotypes, the proportion of differences consistent with gene conversion greatly exceeds that expected by random base substitution. Thus, gene conversion events appear to have occurred with considerable frequency in the evolution of the murine VHS107 family, especially among the V3, V13, and V11 members.

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