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J Immunol. 2005 Jan 15;174(2):934-41.

The double-edged sword of activation-induced cytidine deaminase.

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  • 1Transplantation Biology Program and the Department of Biochemistry, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) is required for Ig class switch recombination, a process that introduces DNA double-strand breaks in B cells. We show in this study that AID associates with the DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) promoting cell survival, presumably by resolving DNA double-strand breaks. Wild-type cells expressing AID mutants that fail to associate with DNA-PKcs or cells deficient in DNA-PKcs or 53BP1 expressing wild-type AID accumulate gammaH2AX foci, indicative of heightened DNA damage response. Thus, AID has two independent functions. AID catalyzes cytidine deamination that originates DNA double-strand breaks needed for recombination, and it promotes DNA damage response and cell survival. Our results thus resolve the paradox of how B cells undergoing DNA cytidine deamination and recombination exhibit heightened survival and suggest a mechanism for hyperIgM type II syndrome associated with AID mutants deficient in DNA-PKcs binding.

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