Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Adv Immunol. 2005;86:43-112.

Mechanism and control of V(D)J recombination versus class switch recombination: similarities and differences.

Author information

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Children's Hospital Boston, CBR Institute for Biomedical Research, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


V(D)J recombination is the process by which the variable region exons encoding the antigen recognition sites of receptors expressed on B and T lymphocytes are generated during early development via somatic assembly of component gene segments. In response to antigen, somatic hypermutation (SHM) and class switch recombination (CSR) induce further modifications of immunoglobulin genes in B cells. CSR changes the IgH constant region for an alternate set that confers distinct antibody effector functions. SHM introduces mutations, at a high rate, into variable region exons, ultimately allowing affinity maturation. All of these genomic alteration processes require tight regulatory control mechanisms, both to ensure development of a normal immune system and to prevent potentially oncogenic processes, such as translocations, caused by errors in the recombination/mutation processes. In this regard, transcription of substrate sequences plays a significant role in target specificity, and transcription is mechanistically coupled to CSR and SHM. However, there are many mechanistic differences in these reactions. V(D)J recombination proceeds via precise DNA cleavage initiated by the RAG proteins at short conserved signal sequences, whereas CSR and SHM are initiated over large target regions via activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID)-mediated DNA deamination of transcribed target DNA. Yet, new evidence suggests that AID cofactors may help provide an additional layer of specificity for both SHM and CSR. Whereas repair of RAG-induced double-strand breaks (DSBs) involves the general nonhomologous end-joining DNA repair pathway, and CSR also depends on at least some of these factors, CSR requires induction of certain general DSB response factors, whereas V(D)J recombination does not. In this review, we compare and contrast V(D)J recombination and CSR, with particular emphasis on the role of the initiating enzymes and DNA repair proteins in these processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center