The humanization of animal model immune systems by genetic engineering has shown great promise for antibody discovery, tolerance studies and for the evaluation of vaccines. Assessment of the baseline antibody repertoire of unimmunized model animals will be useful as a benchmark for future immunization experiments. We characterized the heavy chain and kappa chain antibody repertoires of a model animal, the OmniRat, by high throughput antibody sequencing and made use of two novel datasets for comparison to human repertoires. Intra-animal and inter-animal repertoire comparisons reveal a high level of conservation in antibody diversity between the lymph node and spleen and between members of the species. Multiple differences were found in both the heavy and kappa chain repertoires between OmniRats and humans including gene segment usage, CDR3 length distributions, class switch recombination, somatic hypermutation levels and in features of V(D)J recombination. The Inference and Generation of Repertoires (IGoR) software tool was used to model recombination in VH regions which allowed for the quantification of some of these differences. Diversity estimates of the OmniRat heavy chain repertoires almost reached that of humans, around two orders of magnitude less. Despite variation between the species repertoires, a high frequency of OmniRat clonotypes were also found in the human repertoire. These data give insights into the development and selection of humanized animal antibodies and provide actionable information for use in vaccine studies.
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