IGHV polymorphism provides a rich source of humoral immune system diversity. One important example is the IGHV1-69 germline gene where the biased use of alleles that encode the critical CDR-H2 Phe54 (F-alleles) to make broadly neutralizing antibodies (HV1-69-sBnAb) to the influenza A hemagglutinin stem domain has been clearly established. However, whether IGHV1-69 polymorphism can also modulate B cell function and Ab repertoire expression through promoter and copy number (CN) variations has not been reported, nor has whether IGHV1-69 allelic distribution is impacted by ethnicity. Here we studied a cohort of NIH H5N1 vaccinees and demonstrate for the first time the influence of IGHV1-69 polymorphism on V-segment usage, somatic hypermutation and B cell expansion that elucidates the dominance of F-alleles in HV1-69-sBnAbs. We provide evidence that Phe54/Leu54 (F/L) polymorphism correlates with shifted repertoire usage of other IGHV germline genes. In addition, we analyzed ethnically diverse individuals within the 1000 genomes project and discovered marked variations in F-and L-genotypes and CN among the various ethnic groups that may impact HV1-69-sBnAb responses. These results have immediate implications for understanding HV1-69-sBnAb responses at the individual and population level and for the design and implementation of 'universal influenza vaccine.
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