The potential role antigens play in growth stimulation or in clonal selection of follicular lymphomas is unknown. To study this issue, we sequenced the immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region genes expressed by a follicular lymphoma from multiple biopsy specimens and also cloned and sequenced the corresponding germ-line variable gene from this patient. Comparison to the germ-line gene revealed numerous nucleotide substitutions in all of the lymphoma variable gene sequences. Some of the substitutions may have occurred in the nonmalignant precursor B cell that gave rise to this lymphoma because they were shared among all of the variable genes, but many of the mutations accumulated as the malignant clone expanded. The mutations were distributed in such a way that strongly suggested the majority of tumor cells had been positively selected through their antigen receptor. This was especially evident for the mutations that developed late in the clonal evolution of this lymphoma. These findings indicate that antigen stimulation may be involved in the growth of follicular lymphoma tumors.
View details for Web of Science ID A1992JF85600023
View details for PubMedID 1495966