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Cell. 1991 Jan 11;64(1):201-8.

Selective expression of RAG-2 in chicken B cells undergoing immunoglobulin gene conversion.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor 48109.


Chickens create their immunoglobulin (Ig) repertoires during B cell development in the bursa of Fabricius by intrachromosomal gene conversion. Recent evidence has suggested that Ig gene conversion may involve cis-acting DNA elements related to those involved in V(D)J recombination. Therefore, we have examined the potential role of the V(D)J recombination activating genes, RAG-1 and RAG-2, in regulating chicken Ig gene conversion. In contrast to the coexpression of RAG-1 and RAG-2 observed in mammalian B cells that undergo V(D)J recombination, chicken B cells isolated from the bursa of Fabricius express high levels of the RAG-2 mRNA but do not express RAG-1 mRNA. The developmental and phenotypic characteristics of the bursal lymphocytes and chicken B cell lines that express RAG-2 mRNA demonstrate that selective RAG-2 expression occurs specifically in B cells undergoing Ig diversification by gene conversion. These data suggest that RAG-2 plays a fundamental role in Ig-specific gene conversion.

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