V(D)J recombination of immunoglobulin loci is dependent on the immune cell-specific Rag1 and Rag2 proteins as well as a number of ubiquitously expressed cellular DNA repair proteins that catalyze non-homologous end-joining of DNA double-strand breaks. The evolutionarily conserved Rad50/Mre11/Nibrin protein complex has a role in DNA double-strand break-repair, suggesting that these proteins, too, may participate in V(D)J recombination. Recent findings demonstrating that Rad50 function is defective in cells from patients afflicted with Fanconi anemia provide a possible mechanistic explanation for previous findings that lymphoblasts derived from these patients exhibit subtle defects in V(D)J recombination of extrachromosomal plasmid molecules. Here, we describe a series of findings that provide convincing evidence for a role of the Rad50 protein complex in V(D)J recombination. We found that the fidelity of V(D)J signal joint recombination in fibroblasts from patients afflicted with Fanconi anemia was reduced by nearly tenfold, compared to that observed in fibroblasts from normal donors. Second, we observed that antibody-mediated inhibition of the Rad50, Mre11, or Nibrin proteins reduced the fidelity of signal joint recombination significantly in wild-type cells. The latter finding was somewhat unexpected, because signal joint rejoining in cells from patients with Nijmegen breakage syndrome, which results from mutations in the Nibrin gene, occurs with normal fidelity. However, introduction of anti-Nibrin antibodies into these cells reduced the fidelity of signal joint recombination dramatically. These data reveal for the first time a role for the Rad50 complex in V(D)J recombination, and demonstrate that the protein product of the disease-causing allele responsible for Nijmegen breakage syndrome encodes a protein with residual DNA double-strand break repair activity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported in part by a National Institutes of Health Grant AG16678. A. D. was supported by an American Heart Association Northland Affiliate Predoctoral fellowship.
- Fanconi anemia
- Nijmegen breakage syndrome
- V(D)J recombination