We previously detected mRNAs in a number of human T cell lines with a probe from within the Ig VH gene locus. We now show these mRNAs consist of Ig VH genes expressed in T cells. In one human T cell line, two RNA species have been studied and found to come from transcripts of unrearranged VH segments in which the leader exon, normally associated with VH transcripts in B cells, is replaced by a novel 5' exon (ET) not encoding a hydrophobic leader peptide. In genomic DNA, this new ET exon is adjacent to a pseudo-VH gene that has not been observed in mature mRNA. This implies that RNA splicing controls association of the new exon with the expressed VH segments. Hence, VH transcription does indeed occur in T cells, but is qualitatively different from that in B cells.

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