How to make ends meet in V(D)J recombination

Curr Opin Immunol. 2001 Apr;13(2):186-94. doi: 10.1016/s0952-7915(00)00203-x.


In most vertebrate species analyzed so far, the diversity of soluble or membrane-bound antigen-receptors expressed by B and T lymphocytes is generated by V(D)J recombination. During this process, the coding regions for the variable domains of antigen-receptors are created by the joining of subexons that are randomly selected from arrays of tandemly repeated V, D (sometimes) and J gene segments. This involves the site-specific cleavage of chromosomal DNA by the lymphocyte-specific recombination-activating gene (RAG)-1/2 proteins, which appear to have originated from an ancient transposable element. The DNA double-strand breaks created by RAG proteins are subsequently processed and rejoined by components of the nonhomologous DNA end-joining pathway, which is conserved in all eukaryotic organisms - from unicellular yeast up to highly complex mammalian species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Ligase ATP
  • DNA Ligases / metabolism
  • DNA-Activated Protein Kinase
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Rearrangement / genetics
  • Gene Rearrangement / physiology*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Recombination, Genetic / genetics
  • Recombination, Genetic / physiology
  • Transposases / metabolism


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RAG2 protein, human
  • Rag2 protein, mouse
  • V(D)J recombination activating protein 2
  • XRCC4 protein, human
  • RAG-1 protein
  • DNA
  • DNA-Activated Protein Kinase
  • PRKDC protein, human
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Transposases
  • DNA Ligases
  • DNA Ligase ATP