Immunoglobulin heavy and light chain genes rearrange independently at early stages of B cell development.


The compartment of mouse B cell progenitors can be resolved into five developmentally related fractions by multicolor flow cytometry. Using this system and employing mutant mice in which the membrane exon of the mu chain, the lambda 5 gene, or the JH locus was inactivated by gene targeting, we found that expression of the pre-B cell receptor complex is necessary for the transition from the large CD43+ to the small CD43- pre-B cell stage. We report the occurrence of immunoglobulin heavy and light chain gene rearrangement at the stage of large B cell precursors. We show that neither the pre-B cell receptor complex nor any gene rearrangement in the heavy chain locus is required for the induction of kappa light chain gene rearrangement in early B cell progenitors.