Murine V kappa-J kappa recombination is characterized by a maintenance of size at the site of recombination and the use of nucleic acids found only in germline sequences. This is in contrast to heavy chain VH-D-JH assembly where random nucleotides are added at the recombination sites to produce considerable size variation, even though the heptamer/nonomer recombination sequences are identical in both kappa and heavy chain genes. We have examined the origin of an unusual amino acid, Ile, found at the site of V kappa-J kappa recombination in antigalactan antibodies, by sequence analysis of the corresponding rearranged and germline genes. Results indicate that the Ile codon can be generated by use of a single nucleotide 3' of the V kappa segment in combination with the second and third nucleotides of the first codon of J kappa 5 or J kappa 4. However, several antigalactan antibodies express Ile in combination with J kappa 2. An Ile codon cannot be generated by recombination in any reading frame between germline V kappa and J kappa 2 segments. These results suggest that the origin of the Ile codon in lines using J kappa 2 may represent a novel even in murine light chain assembly, possibly similar to the de novo addition of nucleotides observed in heavy chain gene recombination.

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