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J Biol Chem. 2004 Aug 20;279(34):35360-7. Epub 2004 Jun 16.

ATP-dependent remodeling by SWI/SNF and ISWI proteins stimulates V(D)J cleavage of 5 S arrays.

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


Control of V(D)J recombination is critical for the generation of a fully developed immune repertoire. The molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of antigen receptor gene assembly are beginning to be revealed. Here we studied the influence of chromatin modifications on V(D)J cleavage of a polynucleosomal substrate, in which V(D)J cleavage is greatly reduced compared with naked DNA. ATP-dependent remodeling by human SWI/SNF (hSWI/SNF) in the presence of HMG1 led to a substantial increase of cleavage by the recombination activation gene (RAG) proteins. Either BRG1, the ATPase subunit of hSWI/SNF, or SNF2h, the ATPase of human ISWI complexes, was capable of stimulating V(D)J cleavage of the array, although these remodelers act by different mechanisms. No effect of histone hyperacetylation was detectable in this system. As is observed on naked DNA, in the presence of core RAG1, the full-length RAG2 protein proved to be more active than core RAG2 on these polynucleosomal arrays, reinforcing the importance of the RAG2 C-terminal domain for efficient recombination. Comparison of 5 S array cleavage by the RAG proteins or by the restriction enzyme HhaI after remodeling by hSWI/SNF suggested that RAG proteins and HhaI might have different requirements for maximal accessibility of the substrate.

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