Nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) is one of the major DNA double-strand break repair pathways in mammalian cells and is required for both V(D)J recombination and class switch recombination (CSR), two Ig gene-diversification processes occurring during B cell development. DNA-dependent protein kinase, catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) is a component of the classical NHEJ machinery and has a critical function during V(D)J recombination. However, its role in CSR has been controversial. In this study, we examined the pattern of recombination junctions from in vivo-switched B cells from two DNA-PKcs-deficient patients. One of them harbored mutations that did not affect DNA-PKcs kinase activity but caused impaired Artemis activation; the second patient had mutations resulting in diminished DNA-PKcs protein expression and kinase activity. These results were compared with those from DNA-PKcs-deficient mouse B cells. A shift toward the microhomology-based alternative end-joining at the recombination junctions was observed in both human and mouse B cells, suggesting that the classical NHEJ pathway is impaired during CSR when DNA-PKcs is defective. Furthermore, cells from the second patient showed additional or more severe alterations in CSR and/or NHEJ, which may suggest that DNA-PKcs and/or its kinase activity have additional, Artemis-independent functions during these processes.

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Journal Journal of Immunology
Björkman, A, Du, L, Felgentreff, K, Rosner, C, Kamdar, R.P, Kokaraki, G, … Pan-Hammarström, Q. (2015). DNA-PKcs is involved in Ig class switch recombination in human B cells. Journal of Immunology, 195(12), 5608–5615. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1501633