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Immunity. 1997 Aug;7(2):303-14.

Coding joint formation in a cell-free V(D)J recombination system.

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Universität Z ürich-Irchel Veterinärbiochemie, Zürich, Switzerland.


V(D)J recombination assembles the variable portion of antigen receptor genes in developing lymphocytes and is the only site-specific recombination reaction known in vertebrates. A cell-free system has been established that performs DNA cleavage, end processing, and joining to yield V(D)J coding joints that exhibit structural features similar to those formed in vivo. The reaction has the expected substrate, metal ion, and RAG protein requirements. The efficiency of coding joint formation is reduced dramatically by uncoupling the cleavage and joining portions of the reaction, indicating that a postcleavage coding end complex facilitates joining. By varying the reaction conditions, nucleotide loss from coding ends and heterogeneity of coding joints can be regulated. This cell-free system provides a novel tool for detailed mechanistic analyses of the end processing and joining steps of V(D)J recombination.

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