Monoallelic expression of immunoglobulin genes is epigenetically regulated and maintained. Asynchronous replication of the IGH alleles has been implicated in allelic exclusion. Usually, the functional IGH allele replicates early in the S-phase of the cell cycle whereas the non-functional allele replicates late. Previously, the intronic enhancer region (Eμ) and the 3′ Cα enhancer region have been designated as putative replication initiation sites. Activity of these replication origins are likely to be involved in regulation of asynchronous replication. By use of interphase and DNA fiber FISH we have performed a detailed analysis of the configuration of the t(8;14) chromosomal translocation in Burkitt’s lymphoma patients and cell lines and showed that the breakpoints in all studied cases were perfectly reciprocal without loss of IGH genomic material. An important implication is that in patients and cell lines harboring a breakpoint in a downstream switch region (Sγ or Sα) the Eμ and the 3′ Cα enhancer region are physically separated from each other, whereas in patients and cell lines with the IGH breakpoint located in the JH-region both enhancer regions remain on the der(14) chromosome. We therefore studied the IGH replication timing in Burkitt’s lymphoma cell lines harboring different IGH breakpoints by use of BrdU-FISH and interphase FISH on sorted cell cycle fractions. In two cell lines with JH-region breakpoints (Jiyoye and DG-75) the t(8;14) was invariably targeted to the late replicating IGH allele. In contrast, in all three cell lines with switch-region breakpoints (CA-46, Namalwa, BL-65) asynchronous replication of the IGH alleles was lost. As the position of the breakpoint in the MYC locus at 8q24 differed substantially between these cell lines (DG-75 and CA-46: intron 1 of the c-myc gene; Jiyoye, Namalwa, and BL-65: 100 kb to >500 kb centromeric from c-myc) it is unlikely that the position of the 8q24 breakpoint is of crucial influence on IGH replication timing. We speculate that the Eμ and the 3′ Cα enhancer region regulate the IGH replication timing in a cis-acting manner as physical separation of both enhancer regions results in loss of asynchronous replication.

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