Cleavage at a V(D)J recombination signal requires only RAG1 and RAG2 proteins and occurs in two steps

Cell. 1995 Nov 3;83(3):387-95. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(95)90116-7.


Formation of double-strand breaks at recombination signal sequences is an early step in V(D)J recombination. Here we show that purified RAG1 and RAG2 proteins are sufficient to carry out this reaction. The cleavage reaction can be divided into two distinct steps. First, a nick is introduced at the 5' end of the signal sequence. The other strand is then broken, resulting in a hairpin structure at the coding end and a blunt, 5'-phosphorylated signal end. The hairpin is made as a direct consequence of the cleavage mechanism. Nicking and hairpin formation each require the presence of a signal sequence and both RAG proteins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Genes, RAG-1 / physiology*
  • HeLa Cells / physiology
  • Homeodomain Proteins*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Protein Sorting Signals / genetics
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Recombination, Genetic


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Proteins
  • RAG2 protein, human
  • V(D)J recombination activating protein 2
  • RAG-1 protein
  • DNA