Pulsed-field electrophoresis screening for immunoglobulin heavy-chain constant-region (IGHC) multigene deletions and duplications

Andrea Bottaro, Umberto Cariota, Mario DeMarchi, Angelo O. Carbonara

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25 Scopus citations


Genome regions containing multiple copies of homologous genes, such as the immunoglobulm (Ig) heavy-chain constant-region (IGHC) locus, are often unstable and give rise to duplicated and deleted haplotypes. Analysis of such processes is fundamental to understanding the mechanisms of evolution of multigene families. In the IGHC region, a number of single and multiple gene deletions, derived from either unequal crossing-over or looping-out excision, have been described. To study these haplotypes at the population level, a simple and efficient method for preparing large numbers of DNA samples suitable for pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis was set up, and a sample of 110 blood donors was screened. Deletions were found to be frequent, as expected on the basis of previous serological surveys for homozygotes. Furthermore, a number of multigene duplications, never identified before, were detected. The total frequency of individuals bearing rearranged IGHC haplotypes was 10%. The genes involved in these deletions and duplications were assessed by densitometric analysis of standard Southern blots hybridized with several IGHC probes; two types of deletion and two types of duplication could thus be characterized. These data provide further evidence of the instability of the IGHC locus and demonstrate that unequal crossing-over is the most likely origin of rearranged IGHC haplotypes; they also suggest that such recombination events may be relatively frequent. Moreover, the simplicity and effectiveness of the large-scale PFGE screening approach will be of great help in the study of multigene families and of other loci involved in aberrant recombinations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-756
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1991
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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