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J Biol Chem. 2005 Sep 2;280(35):31314-24. Epub 2005 Jul 1.

Both high mobility group (HMG)-boxes and the acidic tail of HMGB1 regulate recombination-activating gene (RAG)-mediated recombination signal synapsis and cleavage in vitro.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Creighton University Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska 68178, USA.


RAG-1 and RAG-2 initiate V(D)J recombination through synapsis and cleavage of a 12/23 pair of V(D)J recombination signal sequences (RSS). RAG-RSS complex assembly and activity in vitro is promoted by high mobility group proteins of the "HMG-box" family, exemplified by HMGB1. How HMGB1 stimulates the DNA binding and cleavage activity of the RAG complex remains unclear. HMGB1 contains two homologous HMG-box DNA binding domains, termed A and B, linked by a stretch of basic residues to a highly acidic C-terminal tail. To identify determinants of HMGB1 required for stimulation of RAG-mediated RSS binding and cleavage, we prepared an extensive panel of mutant HMGB1 proteins and tested their ability to augment RAG-mediated RSS binding and cleavage activity. Using a combination of mobility shift and in-gel cleavage assays, we find that HMGB1 promotes RAG-mediated cleavage largely through the activity of box B, but optimal stimulation requires a functional A box tethered in the correct orientation. Box A or B mutants fail to promote RAG synaptic complex formation, but this defect is alleviated when the acidic tail is removed from these mutants.

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