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Science. 1996 Dec 20;274(5295):2094-7.

Neoteny in lymphocytes: Rag1 and Rag2 expression in germinal center B cells.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 655 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


The products of the Rag1 and Rag2 genes drive genomic V(D)J rearrangements that assemble functional immunoglobulin and T cell antigen receptor genes. Expression of the Rag genes has been thought to be limited to developmentally immature lymphocyte populations that in normal adult animals are primarily restricted to the bone marrow and thymus. Abundant RAG1 and RAG2 protein and messenger RNA was detected in the activated B cells that populate murine splenic and Peyer's patch germinal centers. Germinal center B cells thus share fundamental characteristics of immature lymphocytes, raising the possibility that antigen-dependent secondary V(D)J rearrangements modify the peripheral antibody repertoire.

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