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Nature. 2011 Sep 11;477(7365):424-30. doi: 10.1038/nature10495.

CTCF-binding elements mediate control of V(D)J recombination.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Children's Hospital, The Immune Disease Institute, Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) variable region exons are assembled from V(H), D and J(H) gene segments in developing B lymphocytes. Within the 2.7-megabase mouse Igh locus, V(D)J recombination is regulated to ensure specific and diverse antibody repertoires. Here we report in mice a key Igh V(D)J recombination regulatory region, termed intergenic control region 1 (IGCR1), which lies between the V(H) and D clusters. Functionally, IGCR1 uses CTCF looping/insulator factor-binding elements and, correspondingly, mediates Igh loops containing distant enhancers. IGCR1 promotes normal B-cell development and balances antibody repertoires by inhibiting transcription and rearrangement of D(H)-proximal V(H) gene segments and promoting rearrangement of distal V(H) segments. IGCR1 maintains ordered and lineage-specific V(H)(D)J(H) recombination by suppressing V(H) joining to D segments not joined to J(H) segments, and V(H) to DJ(H) joins in thymocytes, respectively. IGCR1 is also required for feedback regulation and allelic exclusion of proximal V(H)-to-DJ(H) recombination. Our studies elucidate a long-sought Igh V(D)J recombination control region and indicate a new role for the generally expressed CTCF protein.

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