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Genetics Research International
Volume 2011, Article ID 970968, 10 pages
Review Article

Control of V(D)J Recombination through Transcriptional Elongation and Changes in Locus Chromatin Structure and Nuclear Organization

Instituto de Parasitología y Biomedicina López-Neyra (IPBLN-CSIC), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Parque Tecnológico de Ciencias de la Salud, Avenida del Conocimiento s/n. 18100 Armilla, Spain

Received 7 July 2011; Accepted 29 July 2011

Academic Editor: Carles Sune

Copyright © 2011 Beatriz del Blanco et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


V(D)J recombination is the assembly of gene segments at the antigen receptor loci to generate antigen receptor diversity in T and B lymphocytes. This process is regulated, according to defined developmental programs, by the action of a single specific recombinase complex formed by the recombination antigen gene (RAG-1/2) proteins that are expressed in immature lymphocytes. V(D)J recombination is strictly controlled by RAG-1/2 accessibility to specific recombination signal sequences in chromatin at several levels: cellular lineage, temporal regulation, gene segment order, and allelic exclusion. DNA cleavage by RAG-1/2 is regulated by the chromatin structure, transcriptional elongation, and three-dimensional architecture and position of the antigen receptor loci in the nucleus. Cis-elements specifically direct transcription and V(D)J recombination at these loci through interactions with transacting factors that form molecular machines that mediate a sequence of structural events. These events open chromatin to activate transcriptional elongation and to permit the access of RAG-1/2 to their recombination signal sequences to drive the juxtaposition of the V, D, and J segments and the recombination reaction itself. This chapter summarizes the advances in this area and the important role of the structure and position of antigen receptor loci within the nucleus to control this process.