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EMBO J. 1993 Jun;12(6):2321-7.

V(D)J recombination in B cells is impaired but not blocked by targeted deletion of the immunoglobulin heavy chain intron enhancer.

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Max-Delbrück-Laboratorium, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Köln, Germany.


We have assessed the importance of the immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) intron enhancer for recombination of variable gene segments (V, D and J) during B cell development. We generated chimeric mice with embryonic stem cells lacking the intron enhancer from one of their IgH loci. The IgH intron enhancer was substituted by a short oligonucleotide through homologous recombination using the 'Hit and Run' procedure. V(D)J recombination occurred less frequently on mutant alleles, but was not blocked completely. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction analyses demonstrated that 15-30% of the mutated loci in mature B cells were unrearranged, in striking contrast to the wild-type alleles. The remainder of the mutated loci underwent D-J (65-80%) as well as V-DJ rearrangements, although the latter were less frequent (3-6%). These results are in line with previous data which showed that the V(D)J recombination machinery is modulated through cis-regulatory elements within the intron enhancer. However, our data predict the existence of additional cis-regulatory element(s) which, together with the intron enhancer, are required to activate the V(D)J recombination machinery fully. Such cis-regulatory element(s) might function as an enhancer of recombination or as a locus control region regulating the accessibility of the IgH locus.

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