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EMBO J. 2003 Apr 15;22(8):1931-8.

The C-terminal portion of RAG2 protects against transposition in vitro.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


The assembly of antigen receptor genes by V(D)J recombination is initiated by the RAG1/RAG2 protein complex, which introduces double-strand breaks between recombination signal sequences and their coding DNA. Truncated forms of RAG1 and RAG2 are functional in vivo and have been used to study V(D)J cleavage, hybrid joint formation and transposition in vitro. Here we have characterized the activities of the full-length proteins. Unlike core RAG2, which supports robust transposition in vitro, full-length RAG2 blocks transposition of signal ends following V(D)J cleavage. Thus, one role of this non-catalytic domain may be to prevent transposition in developing lymphoid cells. Although full-length RAG1 and RAG2 proteins rarely form hybrid joints in vivo in the absence of non-homologous end-joining factors, we show that the full-length proteins alone can catalyze this reaction in vitro.

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