We determined the DNA sequence of two large regions of chromosome 22: 33.7 kb containing the C lambda complex; and 5.2 kb 5' of the functionally rearranged lambda gene from the human myeloma, U266. Analysis of these sequences reveals the complete structure of the human C lambda complex and a previously undescribed seventh C lambda region that may encode the Ke+Oz- lambda protein. The seven constant regions are organized in a tandem array, and each is preceded by a single J lambda region. lambda 1, lambda 2, lambda 3, and lambda 7 are apparently active genes, while lambda 4, lambda 5, and lambda 6 are pseudogenes. There are no other J lambda or C lambda regions within a 60-kb region surrounding the C lambda complex; however, there are at least four other lambda-like genes and lambda pseudogenes in the human genome. The lambda genes appear to have evolved via a series of gene duplication events resulting from unequal crossing over or gene conversion between the highly conserved C lambda regions on mispaired chromosomes. The lack of Alu sequences in this large segment of DNA suggests that the C lambda complex resulted from a recent amplification of a smaller Alu-free segment of DNA. Illegitimate recombination between repeated sequences containing lambda 2 and lambda 3 may be responsible for variable amplification of the lambda genes. We also found a 1,377-bp open reading frame (ORF) located on the opposite strand in the region containing lambda 7. While this ORF is flanked by potential RNA splicing signals, we have no evidence that it is part of a functional gene. We also discovered a V lambda pseudogene, called psi V lambda 1, 3 kb upstream of the U266 lambda gene. Using primer extension analysis to map the transcription start in the human lambda gene, we have identified its initiation point 41 bp upstream of the initiation codon. Analysis of the lambda promoter reveals that it contains a TATAA box at position -29 relative to the transcription initiation site and an octamer sequence at -67. Computer analysis of 40 kb of DNA sequences surrounding the human lambda locus has revealed no sequences resembling the kappa or IgH transcriptional enhancers, nor have in vitro analyses for function revealed enhancer activity. A comparison of these results with those obtained in separate studies with transgenic mice point to a complex, developmentally linked mechanism of transcriptional activation.

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