Somatic hypermutation introduces single base changes into the rearranged variable (V) regions of antigen activated B cells at a rate of approximately 1 mutation per kilobase per generation. This is nearly a million-fold higher than the typical mutation rate in a mammalian somatic cell. Rampant mutation at this level could have a devastating effect, but somatic hypermutation is accurately targeted and tightly regulated. Here, we provide an overview of immunoglobulin gene somatic hypermutation; discuss mechanisms of mutation in model organisms that may be relevant to the hypermutation mechanism; and review recent advances toward understanding the possible role(s) of DNA repair, replication, and recombination in this fascinating process.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||22|
|State||Published - Mar 1 1999|