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posted on 28.03.2022, 04:17 authored by Mateusz Kaduk, Martin Corcoran, Gunilla B. Karlsson Hedestam

The accurate germline gene assignment and assessment of somatic hypermutation in antibodies induced by immunization or infection are important in immunological studies. Here, we illustrate issues specific to the construction of comprehensive immunoglobulin (IG) germline gene reference databases for outbred animal species using rhesus macaques, a frequently used non-human primate model, as a model test case. We demonstrate that the genotypic variation found in macaque germline inference studies is reflected in similar levels of gene diversity in genomic assemblies. We show that the high frequency of IG heavy chain V (IGHV) region structural and gene copy number variation between subjects means that individual animals lack genes that are present in other animals. Therefore, gene databases compiled from a single or too few animals will inevitably result in inaccurate gene assignment and erroneous SHM level assessment for those genes it lacks. We demonstrate this by assigning a test macaque IgG library to the KIMDB, a database compiled of germline IGHV sequences from 27 rhesus macaques, and, alternatively, to the IMGT rhesus macaque database, based on IGHV genes inferred primarily from the genomic sequence of the rheMac10 reference assembly, supplemented with 10 genes from the Mmul_051212 assembly. We found that the use of a gene-restricted database led to overestimations of SHM by up to 5% due to misassignments. The principles described in the current study provide a model for the creation of comprehensive immunoglobulin reference databases from outbred species to ensure accurate gene assignment, lineage tracing and SHM calculations.

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