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EMBO J. 1999 Jun 15;18(12):3484-90.

Deficiency in Msh2 affects the efficiency and local sequence specificity of immunoglobulin class-switch recombination: parallels with somatic hypermutation.

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Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QH, UK.


During maturation of the immune response, IgM+ B cells switch to expression of one of the downstream isotypes (IgG, A or E). This class switching occurs by region-specific recombination within the IgH locus through an unknown mechanism. A lack of switch recombination in mice deficient in components of the DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK)-Ku complex has pointed to a role for non-homologous end joining. Here we characterize a switching defect in mice lacking a protein involved in DNA mismatch recognition. Mice deficient in Msh2 give diminished IgG (but not IgM) responses following challenge with both T cell-dependent and T cell-independent antigens. This appears to reflect a B cell-intrinsic defect since B cells from Msh2-deficient mice also exhibit impaired switching (but not blasting or proliferation) on in vitro culture with lipopolysaccharide. Furthermore, those switches that do occur in Msh2-deficient B cells reveal a shift in the distribution of recombination sites used: the breakpoints are more likely to occur in consensus motifs. These results, which intriguingly parallel the effects of Msh2 deficiency on hypermutation, suggest a role for Msh2 in the mechanics of class-switch recombination.

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