Little is known about the utilization of human Ig heavy chain variable gene segments (VH segments) in different B-lineage cell populations or in antibodies of particular specificity and function. We now demonstrate that human antibodies with Ig VH regions encoded by the most JH-proximal human VH segment (VH6) have specificities resembling those of autoantibodies present in sera of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (e.g., anti-DNA and anticardiolipin). These specificities appear to be encoded by the germline VH6 gene because the activity was found in multiple independent VH6 antibodies in which the light chain varied with respect to isotype and V kappa subgroup. Features of CDR3 length and somatic mutation patterns in several VH6 antibodies suggested that they were selected by the immune system.

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