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Mol Cell. 1998 Jun;1(7):1011-9.

Assembly of a 12/23 paired signal complex: a critical control point in V(D)J recombination.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-0540, USA.


The 12/23 rule requires that V(D)J recombination only occurs between recombination signals with 12 and 23 base pair spacers. We show that the 12/23 rule is established prior to DNA cleavage, by the formation of a synaptic complex containing both 12-spacer and 23-spacer signals. The RAG1 and RAG2 proteins, as well as the DNA bending protein HMG1, are needed for efficient formation of this complex. We show further that the synaptic complex is the functional complex for coupled cleavage. After cleavage, all four broken DNA ends remain associated with the RAG proteins in a postcleavage synaptic complex, whose existence helps to explain the known role of RAG1 and RAG2 in the subsequent end-joining events that complete V(D)J recombination.

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