Transcription through immunoglobulin switch (S) regions is essential for class switch recombination (CSR), but no molecular function of the transcripts has been described. Likewise, recruitment of activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) to S regions is critical for CSR; however, the underlying mechanism has not been fully elucidated. Here, we demonstrate that intronic switch RNA acts in trans to target AID to S region DNA. AID binds directly to switch RNA through G-quadruplexes formed by the RNA molecules. Disruption of this interaction by mutation of a key residue in the putative RNA-binding domain of AID impairs recruitment of AID to S region DNA, thereby abolishing CSR. Additionally, inhibition of RNA lariat processing leads to loss of AID localization to S regions and compromises CSR; both defects can be rescued by exogenous expression of switch transcripts in a sequence-specific manner. These studies uncover an RNA-mediated mechanism of targeting AID to DNA.
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