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Blood. 2002 Sep 15;100(6):2145-52.

The immunophenotypic and immunogenotypic B-cell differentiation arrest in bone marrow of RAG-deficient SCID patients corresponds to residual recombination activities of mutated RAG proteins.

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Department of Immunology, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, dr. Molewaterplein 50, 3015 GE Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


The protein products of the recombination activating genes (RAG1 and RAG2) initiate the formation of immunoglobulin (Ig) and T-cell receptors, which are essential for B- and T-cell development, respectively. Mutations in the RAG genes result in severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID), generally characterized by the absence of mature B and T lymphocytes, but presence of natural killer (NK) cells. Biochemically, mutations in the RAG genes result either in nonfunctional proteins or in proteins with partial recombination activity. The mutated RAG genes of 9 patients from 7 families were analyzed for their recombination activity using extrachromosomal recombination substrates, rearrangement of endogenous Ig loci in RAG gene-transfected nonlymphoid cells, or the presence of Ig gene rearrangements in bone marrow (BM). Recombination activity was virtually absent in all 6 patients with mutations in the RAG core domains, but partial activity was present in the other 3 RAG-deficient patients, 2 of them having Omenn syndrome with oligoclonal T lymphocytes. Using 4-color flow cytometry, we could define the exact stage at which B-cell differentiation was arrested in the BM of 5 RAG-deficient SCID patients. In 4 of 5 patients, the absence of recombination activity was associated with a complete B-cell differentiation arrest at the transition from cytoplasmic (Cy) Igmu(-) pre-B-I cells to CyIgmu(+) pre-B-II cells. However, the fifth patient showed low frequencies of precursor B cells with CyIgmu and surface membrane IgM, in line with the partial recombination activity of the patient's mutated RAG gene and the detection of in-frame Ig gene rearrangements in BM.

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