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J Exp Med. 2010 Dec 20;207(13):2809-16. doi: 10.1084/jem.20101136. Epub 2010 Nov 29.

Promoters, enhancers, and transcription target RAG1 binding during V(D)J recombination.

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Department of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


V(D)J recombination assembles antigen receptor genes in a well-defined order during lymphocyte development. This sequential process has long been understood in the context of the accessibility model, which states that V(D)J recombination is regulated by controlling the ability of the recombination machinery to gain access to its chromosomal substrates. Indeed, many features of "open" chromatin correlate with V(D)J recombination, and promoters and enhancers have been strongly implicated in creating a recombinase-accessible configuration in neighboring chromatin. An important prediction of the accessibility model is that cis-elements and transcription control binding of the recombination-activating gene 1 (RAG1) and RAG2 proteins to their DNA targets. However, this prediction has not been tested directly. In this study, we use mutant Tcra and Tcrb alleles to demonstrate that enhancers control RAG1 binding globally at Jα or Dβ/Jβ gene segments, that promoters and transcription direct RAG1 binding locally, and that RAG1 binding can be targeted in the absence of RAG2. These findings reveal important features of the genetic mechanisms that regulate RAG binding and provide a direct confirmation of the accessibility model.

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