Molecular Life Sciences

Living Edition
| Editors: Robert D. Wells, Judith S. Bond, Judith Klinman, Bettie Sue Siler Masters, Ellis Bell

V(D)J Recombination

Living reference work entry



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.




Recombination Signal Sequence Omenn Syndrome Hairpin Formation Illegitimate Recombination Event Functional Immunoglobulin 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access


  1. Davis MM, Bjorkman PJ (1988) T-cell antigen receptor genes and T-cell recognition. Nature 334:395–402PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Fugmann SD (2010) The origins of the Rag genes–from transposition to V(D)J recombination. Semin Immunol 22:10–16PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Reddy YV, Perkins EJ, Ramsden DA (2006) Genomic instability due to V(D)J recombination-associated transposition. Genes Dev 20:1575–1582PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Schatz DG, Ji Y (2011) Recombination centres and the orchestration of V(D)J recombination. Nat Rev Immunol 11:251–263PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology LaboratoryNational Cancer Institute, National Institutes of HealthFrederickUSA
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA