Beyond the 12/23 rule of VDJ recombination independent of the Rag proteins Academic Article uri icon

publication date

  • 2005


  • The combinatorial repertoire of AgRs is established through somatic recombination of V, D, and J gene segments during lymphocyte development. Incorporation of D segments into IgH, TCRbeta, and TCRdelta chains also contributes to junctional diversification by substantially extending the length of the third CDR. The V, D, and J gene segments are flanked by recombination signals (RS) of 12- or 23-mer spacer length that direct recombination according to the 12/23 rule. D genes in the TCRbeta and TCRdelta loci are flanked by a 12RS and 23RS, and their incorporation is controlled by mechanisms "beyond the 12/23 rule." In the TCRbeta locus, selective interactions between Rag proteins and the RS flanking the V-D and D-J genes, respectively, are sufficient to enforce D gene usage. In this article, we report that in the TCRdelta locus, the Rag proteins are not the major determinant of D gene incorporation. In developing mouse and human thymocytes, the two Ddelta genes rearrange predominantly to form D-D coding joints. In contrast, when tested in ex vivo transfection assays in a nonlymphoid cell line, the flanking RS mediate deletion, rather than incorporation, of the two D genes on both exogenous recombination substrates and the endogenous locus. These results suggest that selective Rag-RS interactions are not the sole regulators of D gene segment incorporation, and additional, perhaps lymphocyte-specific, mechanisms exist that allow proper shaping of the primary AgR repertoire.