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Zachau, Hans G. (2000): The immunoglobulin κ gene families of human and mouse: a cottage industry approach. In: Biological Chemistry, Vol. 381, No. 9-10: pp. 951-954


Some aspects of the work of our group on the human and mouse immunoglobulin κ genes are reviewed. The human κ locus contains a large duplication: a 600 kb C κ-proximal copy with 40 V κ genes is found in the close vicinity of a 440 kb C κ-distal copy with 36 very similar, but not identical, V κ genes. The chimpanzee has only the C κ -proximal copy of the locus. The κ locus of the mouse is close to 3.2 Mb in size, of which 3.1 Mb have been cloned in four contigs, leaving three small gaps of together about 90 kb; 140 V κ genes and pseudogenes were localized and sequenced. In parallel to the elucidation of the structure of the κ loci, the mechanisms of the V-J rearrangement, somatic hypermutation and κ gene expression were studied. Various polymorphisms were detected in the human population and a number of haplotypes defined. in addition to the V κ genes within the loci numerous V κ orphons were localized on different chromosomes. Comparing the κ loci of different species allows some interesting conclusions as to the evolution of this multigene family. Finally our strategy of elucidating the structure and function of the κ loci, which has been termed a `cottage industry approach', is discussed in relation to the large-scale genome analysis as pursued today using automated methods.