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Nat Immunol. 2004 Jun;5(6):630-7. Epub 2004 Apr 25.

Antisense intergenic transcription in V(D)J recombination.

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Laboratory of Chromatin and Gene Expression, The Babraham Institute, Cambridge CB2 4AT, UK.


Antigen receptor genes undergo variable, diversity and joining (V(D)J) recombination, which requires ordered large-scale chromatin remodeling. Here we show that antisense transcription, both genic and intergenic, occurs extensively in the V region of the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus. RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization demonstrates antisense transcription is strictly developmentally regulated and is initiated during the transition from DJ(H) to VDJ(H) recombination and terminates concomitantly with VDJ(H) recombination. Our data show antisense transcription is specific to the V region and suggest transcripts extend across several genes. We propose that antisense transcription remodels the V region to facilitate V(H)-to-DJ(H) recombination. These findings have wider implications for V(D)J recombination of other antigen receptor loci and developmental regulation of multigene loci.

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