Living Reference Work Entry

Molecular Life Sciences

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Date: Latest Version

V(D)J Recombination

  • Adam R. ParksAffiliated withGene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
  • , Joseph E. PetersAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology, Cornell University Email author 

Synonyms

Somatic recombination

Definition

V(D)J recombination is a DNA recombination process that occurs during the development of immune cells, generating diversity in immunoglobulin (Ig) and T-cell receptor (TCR) proteins (Schatz and Ji 2011). This system derives its name from the coding regions that are assembled to make functional immunoglobulins and T-cell receptors, the variable (V), diversity (D), and joining (J) regions. Proteins dedicated to this process, called RAG proteins, mediate recombination between V(D)J coding sequences, contain DDE-type transposase motifs, and are evolutionarily related to Transib transposases. Similar to the recombinase used by hAT transposons, RAG proteins mediate intramolecular DNA hairpin formation, which causes a double-strand DNA break at each of the boundaries of the V(D)J coding sequences. A nonhomologous end-joining DNA repair pathway is used to fuse different V(D)J sequences together following the action of the RAG proteins.

Discussion

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