Recent in vitro work on V(D)J recombination has helped to clarify its mechanism. The first stage of the reaction, which can be reproduced with the purified RAG1 and RAG2 proteins, is a site-specific cleavage that generates the same broken DNA species found in vivo. The cleavage reaction is closely related to known types of transpositional recombination, such as that of HIV integrase. All the site specificity of V(D)J recombination, including the 12/23 rule, is determined by the RAG proteins. The later steps largely overlap with the repair of radiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks, as indicated by the identity of several newly characterized factors involved in repair. These developments open the way for a thorough biochemical study of V(D)J recombination.

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Current Opinion in Immunology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Ramsden, D.A, van Gent, D.C, & Gellert, M. (1997). Specificity in V(D)J recombination: new lessons from biochemistry and genetics. Current Opinion in Immunology. Retrieved from