We identified, in independently generated hybridoma antibodies, blocks of shared somatic alterations comprising four consecutive amino acid replacements in the CDR2s of their heavy chain variable regions. We found that the nucleotide sequences encoding the shared replacements differed slightly. In addition, we performed genomic cloning and sequencing analyses that indicate that no genomic sequence could encode the block of shared replacements in any one of the antibodies and thus directly serve as a donor by a recombinational process. Finally, in a survey of other somatically mutated versions of the same heavy chain variable gene, we found several examples containing one, two, or three of the shared CDR2 mutations in various combinations. We conclude that the shared somatic alterations were acquired by several independent events. This result, and the fact that the antibodies containing the four shared mutations were elicited in response to the same antigen and are encoded by the same VH and VK gene segments, suggests that an intense selection pressure has fixed the shared replacements by favoring the clonal expansion of B cells producing antibodies that contain them. The basis of this selection pressure is addressed elsewhere (Parhami-Seren, B., L. J. Wysocki, M. N. Margolies, and J. Sharon, manuscript submitted for publication).

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