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J Immunol. 2012 Sep 1;189(5):2374-82. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1200414. Epub 2012 Jul 23.

Activation-induced cytidine deaminase-initiated off-target DNA breaks are detected and resolved during S phase.

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The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, USA.


Activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) initiates DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) in the IgH gene (Igh) to stimulate isotype class switch recombination (CSR), and widespread breaks in non-Igh (off-target) loci throughout the genome. Because the DSBs that initiate class switching occur during the G₁ phase of the cell cycle, and are repaired via end joining, CSR is considered a predominantly G₁ reaction. By contrast, AID-induced non-Igh DSBs are repaired by homologous recombination. Although little is known about the connection between the cell cycle and either induction or resolution of AID-mediated non-Igh DSBs, their repair by homologous recombination implicates post-G₁ phases. Coordination of DNA breakage and repair during the cell cycle is critical to promote normal class switching and prevent genomic instability. To understand how AID-mediated events are regulated through the cell cycle, we have investigated G₁-to-S control in AID-dependent genome-wide DSBs. We find that AID-mediated off-target DSBs, like those induced in the Igh locus, are generated during G₁. These data suggest that AID-mediated DSBs can evade G₁/S checkpoint activation and persist beyond G₁, becoming resolved during S phase. Interestingly, DSB resolution during S phase can promote not only non-Igh break repair, but also Ig CSR. Our results reveal novel cell cycle dynamics in response to AID-initiated DSBs, and suggest that the regulation of the repair of these DSBs through the cell cycle may ensure proper class switching while preventing AID-induced genomic instability.

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