Orientation-specific joining of AID-initiated DNA breaks promotes antibody class switching.

Nature 2015 Sep 26;525(7567):134-139. Epub 2015 Aug 26.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, and Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

During B-cell development, RAG endonuclease cleaves immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) V, D, and J gene segments and orchestrates their fusion as deletional events that assemble a V(D)J exon in the same transcriptional orientation as adjacent Cμ constant region exons. In mice, six additional sets of constant region exons (CHs) lie 100-200 kilobases downstream in the same transcriptional orientation as V(D)J and Cμ exons. Long repetitive switch (S) regions precede Cμ and downstream CHs. In mature B cells, class switch recombination (CSR) generates different antibody classes by replacing Cμ with a downstream CH (ref. 2). Activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) initiates CSR by promoting deamination lesions within Sμ and a downstream acceptor S region; these lesions are converted into DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) by general DNA repair factors. Productive CSR must occur in a deletional orientation by joining the upstream end of an Sμ DSB to the downstream end of an acceptor S-region DSB. However, the relative frequency of deletional to inversional CSR junctions has not been measured. Thus, whether orientation-specific joining is a programmed mechanistic feature of CSR as it is for V(D)J recombination and, if so, how this is achieved is unknown. To address this question, we adapt high-throughput genome-wide translocation sequencing into a highly sensitive DSB end-joining assay and apply it to endogenous AID-initiated S-region DSBs in mouse B cells. We show that CSR is programmed to occur in a productive deletional orientation and does so via an unprecedented mechanism that involves in cis Igh organizational features in combination with frequent S-region DSBs initiated by AID. We further implicate ATM-dependent DSB-response factors in enforcing this mechanism and provide an explanation of why CSR is so reliant on the 53BP1 DSB-response factor.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature14970DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4592165PMC
September 2015
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