Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients assigned to stereotyped subset 4 possess distinctive patterns of intraclonal diversification (ID) within their immunoglobulin (IG) genes. Although highly indicative of an ongoing response to antigen(s), the critical question concerning the precise timing of antigen involvement is unresolved. Hence, we conducted a large-scale longitudinal study of eight subset 4 cases totaling 511 and 398 subcloned IG heavy and kappa sequences. Importantly, we could establish a hierarchical pattern of subclonal evolution, thus revealing which somatic hypermutations were negatively or positively selected. In addition, distinct clusters of subcloned sequences with cluster-specific mutational profiles were observed initially; however, at later time points, the minor cluster had often disappeared and hence not been selected. Despite the high intensity of ID, it was remarkable that certain residues remained essentially unaltered. These novel findings strongly support a role for persistent antigen stimulation in the clonal evolution of CLL subset 4.
- Clonal Evolution
- Immunogenetic Phenomena
- Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains/genetics
- Immunoglobulin kappa-Chains/genetics
- Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell/genetics
- Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell/genetics