The proteins encoded by RAG1 and RAG2 can initiate gene recombination by site-specific cleavage of DNA in immunoglobulin and T-cell receptor (TCR) loci. We identified a new homozygous RAG1 gene mutation (631delT) that leads to a premature stop codon in the 5' part of the RAG1 gene. The patient carrying this 631delT RAG1 gene mutation died at the age of 5 weeks from an Omenn syndrome-like T(+)/B(- )severe combined immunodeficiency disease. The high number of blood T-lymphocytes (55 x 10(6)/mL) showed an almost polyclonal TCR gene rearrangement repertoire not of maternal origin. In contrast, B-lymphocytes and immunoglobulin gene rearrangements were hardly detectable. We showed that the 631delT RAG1 gene can give rise to an N-terminal truncated RAG1 protein, using an internal AUG codon as the translation start site. Consistent with the V(D)J recombination in T cells, this N-terminal truncated RAG1 protein was active in a plasmid V(D)J recombination assay. Apparently, the N-terminal truncated RAG1 protein can recombine TCR genes but not immunoglobulin genes. We conclude that the N-terminus of the RAG1 protein is specifically involved in immunoglobulin gene rearrangements.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Noordzij, J., Verkaik, N., Hartwig, N., de Groot, R., van Gent, D., & van Dongen, J. (2000). N-terminal truncated human RAG1 proteins can direct T-cell receptor but not immunoglobulin gene rearrangements. Blood. Retrieved from