Five cDNA clones designated pDH2, pDH8, pDH9, pDH31 and pDH101 encoding rabbit immunoglobulin lambda light chain sequences have been characterized. Comparison of the V lambda sequences suggests that, in addition to an increased divergence in all of the complementarity-determining regions (CDRs), variable-region diversity is amplified by the length heterogeneity of the CDR3, at the V lambda-J lambda junction. An insertion of four codons at positions 48a-d has been noted in three cDNA sequences. This insert, not found in lambda nor kappa light chains of other species, has a variable sequence, suggesting its possible implication in expanding variability of the CDR2. One of the cDNA clones was shown to encode a novel C lambda region which differs by four amino acid substitutions from the C lambda region common to all the other clones. Thus, the rabbit can use two different C lambda genes, which might correlate with the expression of the two known allotypes of lambda chains, C7 and C21. Southern blotting experiments indicate a small number of germ-line V lambda genes and the cDNA nucleotide sequence data reported here suggest that several of these genes can be expressed. The possibility of at least two V-J-C gene clusters is discussed.

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