Accessibility of antigen receptor loci to RAG is correlated with the presence of H3K4me3, which binds to a plant homeodomain (PHD) in the RAG-2 subunit and promotes V(D)J recombination. A point mutation in the PHD, W453A, eliminates binding of H3K4me3 and impairs recombination. The debilitating effect of the W453A mutation is ameliorated by second-site mutations that locate an inhibitory domain in the interval from residues 352 through 405 of RAG-2. Disruption of the inhibitory domain stimulates V(D)J recombination within extrachromosomal substrates and at endogenous antigen receptor loci. Association of RAG-1 and RAG-2 with chromatin at the IgH locus in B cell progenitors is dependent on recognition of H3K4me3 by the PHD. Strikingly, disruption of the inhibitory domain permits association of RAG with the IgH locus in the absence of H3K4me3 binding. Thus, the inhibitory domain acts as a gate that prohibits RAG from accessing the IgH locus unless RAG-2 is engaged by H3K4me3.
Keywords: V(D)J recombination; epigenetic control; histone modification; lymphocyte development.
Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.