To clarify whether mantle cell lymphomas (MCLs) are related to naive pre-germinal center B cells (expressing nonmutated rearranged VH genes) or to germinal center-derived memory B cells (expressing mutated rearranged VH genes), clonal IgH gene rearrangements using DNA from six MCLs were polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-amplified and analyzed for the presence of somatic mutations. For comparison, six cases of B- chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) known to display nonmutated rearranged VH genes and six cases of follicle center lymphomas (FCLs) known to display mutated rearranged VH genes were included in our study. The VH region sequences of the six MCLs showed, like those of the six B-CLL cases, no or very little somatic mutations, in contrast to the VH sequences of the six FCL cases, all of which were highly mutated. This is indicative of MCL, like B-CLL, being derived from naive pre-germinal center B cells and furthermore underscores the postulated relationship of MCLs with the B cells of the normal follicular mantle zone because it has recently been shown that this mantle zone is solely or at least largely composed of naive (nonmutated) B cells.

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