The relationship between somatic hypermutation and affinity maturation in the mouse is delineated. Recent work on the anatomical and cellular site of this process is surveyed. The molecular characteristics of somatic hypermutation are described in terms of the region mutated and the distinctive patterns of nucleotide changes that are observed. The results of experiments utilizing transgenic mice to find out the minimum -acting sequences required to recruit hypermutation are summarized. The hypothesis that V gene sequences have evolved in order to target mutation to certain sites but not others is discussed. The use that different species make of somatic hypermutation to generate either the primary or secondary B cell repertoire is considered. Possible molecular mechanisms for the hypermutation process and future goals of research are outlined.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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