Much of T and B lymphocyte receptor diversity derives from the addition of nontemplated N regions at the junctions of receptor gene elements, although fetal T cells expressing gamma/delta receptors lack N regions. I have sequenced immunoglobulin H chain variable regions of PCR-amplified DNA and cDNA from fetal and newborn mouse liver and spleen cells. These sequences showed an absence of N regions. Only 1/87 DNA sequences and 17/146 RNA sequences contained N regions, in striking contrast to adult Ig sequences. These data show that N region insertion is a developmentally regulated process in B cells as well as in T cells, and demonstrate that receptor diversity in neonatal B cells is limited by the absence of N regions as well as by biased usage of Vh genes.

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