We have used the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in an attempt to clone and sequence the exons and hitherto unavailable contiguous flanks of all members of the small VH9 germline gene family from inbred mouse strains and sublines that have had a common ancestry within the last century, and to analyze the molecular evolution of these sequences. Fifteen genuine germline genes were isolated (designated VH9.1 through VH9.15) from strains and sublines of DBA, BALB, 129 and C57BL inbred mice. Of the 15 genuine isolates, nine are novel: seven sequences from DBA strains and sublines (VH9.3 to VH9.9) and two sequences from C57BL strains (VH9.13 and VH9.14). We have identified sequencing errors and PCR recombinant artefacts in previously published sequences. We detected no sequence divergence of individual genes shared by the strains and sublines studied. However, we isolated two genes from DBA strains and sublines, VH9.1 and VH9.3, that differ only by five nucleotides encoding three amino acid changes that are concentrated within a 33 nucleotide (11 codon) region. Of these 11 codons, eight encode a putative antigen binding site. There were no differences in the remaining 733 nucleotides sequenced (including both 5′ and 3′ flanking regions). Potential explanations for the generation of VH9.1 and VH9.3 are discussed.
- V gene