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Science. 2012 May 18;336(6083):931-4. doi: 10.1126/science.1218692. Epub 2012 Apr 26.

AID-driven deletion causes immunoglobulin heavy chain locus suicide recombination in B cells.

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Limoges University, CNRS, 2 rue Marcland, 87025 Limoges Cedex, France.


Remodeling of immunoglobulin genes by activation-induced deaminase (AID) is required for affinity maturation and class-switch recombination in mature B lymphocytes. In the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus, these processes are predominantly controlled by the 3' cis-regulatory region. We now show that this region is transcribed and undergoes AID-mediated mutation and recombination around phylogenetically conserved switchlike DNA repeats. Such recombination, which we term locus suicide recombination, deletes the whole constant region gene cluster and thus stops expression of the immunoglobulin of the B cell surface, which is critical for B cell survival. The frequency of this event is approaching that of class switching and makes it a potential regulator of B cell homeostasis.

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