Identification of a third variable lymphocyte receptor in the lamprey

Jun Kasamatsu, Yoichi Sutoh, Kazunori Fugo, Noriyuki Otsuka, Kazuya Iwabuchi, Masanori Kasahara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


Jawless vertebrates such as lamprey and hagfish lack T-cell and B-cell receptors; instead, they have unique antigen receptors known as variable lymphocyte receptors (VLRs). VLRs generate diversity by recombining highly diverse leucine-rich repeat modules and are expressed clonally on lymphocyte-like cells (LLCs). Thus far, two types of receptors, VLRA and VLRB, have been identified in lampreys and hagfish. Recent evidence indicates that VLRA and VLRB are expressed on distinct populations of LLCs that resemble T cells and B cells of jawed vertebrates, respectively. Here we identified a third VLR, designated VLRC, in the lamprey. None of the ≈100 VLRC cDNA clones subjected to sequencing had an identical sequence, indicating that VLRC can generate sufficient diversity to function as antigen receptors. Notably, the C-terminal cap of VLRC exhibits only limited diversity and has important structural differences relative to VLRA and VLRB. Single-cell PCR analysis identified LLCs that rearranged VLRC but not VLRA or VLRB, suggesting the presence of a unique population of LLCs that express only VLRC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14304-14308
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Aug 10


  • Antigen receptors
  • Immune system evolution
  • Jawless vertebrates
  • Leucine-rich repeats
  • Somatic rearrangement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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