In developing B cells the immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) locus is thought to move from repressive to permissive chromatin compartments to facilitate its scheduled rearrangement. In mature B cells, maintenance of allelic exclusion has been proposed to involve recruitment of the non-productive IgH allele to pericentromeric heterochromatin. Here we used an allele-specific chromosome conformation capture combined with sequencing (4C-seq) approach to unambigously follow the individual IgH alleles in mature B lymphocytes. Despite their physical and functional difference, productive and non-productive IgH alleles in B cells and unrearranged IgH alleles in T cells share many chromosomal contacts and largely reside in active chromatin. In brain, however, the locus resides in a different, repressive environment. We conclude that IgH adopts a lymphoid-specific nuclear location that is however unrelated to maintenance of allelic exclusion. We additionally find that in mature B cells - but not in T cells – the distal VH regions of both IgH alleles position themselves away from active chromatin. This, we speculate, may help to restrict enhancer activity to the productively rearranged VH promoter element.
Allele specific analysis of the nuclear organization of the IgH locus in resting and activated B cells and T cells and fetal brain cells