Two gamma 2a gene forms in the MPC11 mouse myeloma cell line (gamma 2b, K) have been localized to the expressed H chain chromosome, where they exist in tandem downstream of the expressed gamma 2b gene. The gamma 2a gene duplication has apparently occurred by spontaneous, unequal sister chromatid exchange (SCE) in a B lymphoid precursor of MPC11 or in MPC11 itself. It is especially significant that either of the tandem gamma 2a gene forms may be used in the class switch from gamma 2b to gamma 2a production occurring in the MPC11 line, indicating that heavy chain constant region (CH) gene duplication (or deletion) may be a mechanism normally impinging on CH gene expression. The gamma 2a genes of MPC11 undergo further copy number variation via unequal SCE in variants of this line derived by mutagenesis and selection for altered H chain production. The remarkable frequency with which copy number variation occurs in these cells suggests that unequal SCE may play a physiological role in CH gene arrangement and expression.

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