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Mol Cell Biol. Oct 1996; 16(10): 5683–5690.
PMCID: PMC231568

DNA sequence and structure requirements for cleavage of V(D)J recombination signal sequences.


Purified RAG1 and RAG2 proteins can cleave DNA at V(D)J recombination signals. In dissecting the DNA sequence and structural requirements for cleavage, we find that the heptamer and nonamer motifs of the recombination signal sequence can independently direct both steps of the cleavage reaction. Proper helical spacing between these two elements greatly enhances the efficiency of cleavage, whereas improper spacing can lead to interference between the two elements. The signal sequences are surprisingly tolerant of structural variation and function efficiently when nicks, gaps, and mismatched bases are introduced or even when the signal sequence is completely single stranded. Sequence alterations that facilitate unpairing of the bases at the signal/coding border activate the cleavage reaction, suggesting that DNA distortion is critical for V(D)J recombination.

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Selected References

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