Developmental progression of equine immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region diversity

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Abstract

Humoral immunity is a critical component of the immune system that is established during fetal life and expands upon exposure to pathogens. The extensive humoral immune response repertoire is generated in large part via immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy chain variable region diversity. The horse is a useful model to study the development of humoral diversity because the placenta does not transfer maternal antibodies; therefore, Igs detected in the fetus and pre-suckle neonate were generated in utero. The goal of this study was to compare the equine fetal Ig VDJ repertoire to that of neonatal, foal, and adult horse stages of life. We found similar profiles of IGHV, IGHD, and IGHJ gene usage throughout life, including predominant usage of IGHV2S3, IGHD18S1, and IGHJ1S5. CDR3H lengths were also comparable throughout life. Unexpectedly, Ig sequence diversity significantly increased between the fetal and neonatal age, and, as expected, between the foal and adult age.

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