Ig germline genes have been isolated from recombinant clones prepared in separate libraries constructed from adult BALB/c liver DNA either in pBR328 plasmid or in EMBL 3 phage. Three clones that gave a very strong positive hybridization signal with a VH anti-GAT-specific probe were completely characterized and sequenced. All three were greater than 95% homologous, with the exception of the 5' noncoding region, which was only 85% homologous but contained characteristic regulatory signals. One of these genes, H10, had a sequence that was completely identical to that of a cDNA derived from a GAT-specific BALB/c hybridoma. Southern blot analysis using Eco RI-digested DNA from rearranged GAT-specific hybridomas revealed that the same gene was used for other GAT-specific VH regions, including one differing from the H10 sequence by 12 nucleotides, which must have been generated by a somatic mechanism. The same H10 germline gene was also used, in most cases without any nucleotide substitution, in hybridomas of the Ab1' set of the GAT idiotypic cascade, suggesting that immunization with Ab2 (antiidiotypic) antibodies preferentially stimulates the direct expression of VH germline genes. Finally, the previous hypothesis that NPa and GAT VH genes were derived from the same germline gene was definitively confirmed, both from sequence data and Southern blot analysis.

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