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J Exp Med. 2004 Jun 7;199(11):1523-32. Epub 2004 Jun 1.

Surface mu heavy chain signals down-regulation of the V(D)J-recombinase machinery in the absence of surrogate light chain components.

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Hematopoiesis Unit, Nikolaus-Fiebiger-Center, Friedrich-Alexander University, Glueckstrasse 6, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.


Early B cell development is characterized by stepwise, ordered rearrangement of the immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy (HC) and light (LC) chain genes. Only one of the two alleles of these genes is used to produce a receptor, a phenomenon referred to as allelic exclusion. It has been suggested that pre-B cell receptor (pre-BCR) signals are responsible for down-regulation of the VDJH-recombinase machinery (Rag1, Rag2, and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase [TdT]), thereby preventing further rearrangement on the second HC allele. Using a mouse model, we show that expression of an inducible muHC transgene in Rag2-/- pro-B cells induces down-regulation of the following: (a) TdT protein, (b) a transgenic green fluorescent protein reporter reflecting endogenous Rag2 expression, and (c) Rag1 primary transcripts. Similar effects were also observed in the absence of surrogate LC (SLC) components, but not in the absence of the signaling subunit Ig-alpha. Furthermore, in wild-type mice and in mice lacking either lambda5, VpreB1/2, or the entire SLC, the TdT protein is down-regulated in muHC+LC- pre-B cells. Surprisingly, muHC without LC is expressed on the surface of pro-/pre-B cells from lambda5-/-, VpreB1-/-VpreB2-/-, and SLC-/- mice. Thus, SLC or LC is not required for muHC cell surface expression and signaling in these cells. Therefore, these findings offer an explanation for the occurrence of HC allelic exclusion in mice lacking SLC components.

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