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Abstract

The expression of species-specific surface IgM was studied in various Xenopus species hybrids. Whether the hybrids are diploid or polyploid, a lymphocyte does not produce all of the immunoglobulins (Ig) encloded by the Ig genes present in its genome. This suggests that the selection pressure to make a lymphocyte synthesize only one antibody is high and that allelic exclusion already existed in the ancestors of amphibians which appeared 300 million years ago.

The apparent lack of cells producing multiple Ig in polyploid hybrids having more than one pair of functional Ig genes suggests that if a stochastic model for allelic exclusion is correct, the frequency of multiple successful rearrangements has to be very low, resulting in a huge waste of lymphocyte precursors. Given the particularity of frog development it is argued that this is not likely to be the case.