Acetylation is increasingly recognized as an important metabolic regulatory post-translational protein modification, yet the metabolic consequence of mitochondrial protein hyperacetylation is unknown. We find that high-fat diet (HFD) feeding induces hepatic mitochondrial protein hyperacetylation in mice and downregulation of the major mitochondrial protein deacetylase SIRT3. Mice lacking SIRT3 (SIRT3KO) placed on a HFD show accelerated obesity, insulin resistance, hyperlipidemia, and steatohepatitis compared to wild-type (wt) mice. The lipogenic enzyme stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 is highly induced in SIRT3KO mice, and its deletion rescues both wt and SIRT3KO mice from HFD-induced hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance. We further identify a single nucleotide polymorphism in the human SIRT3 gene that is suggestive of a genetic association with the metabolic syndrome. This polymorphism encodes a point-mutation in the SIRT3 protein, which reduces its overall enzymatic efficiency. Our findings show loss of SIRT3 and dysregulation of mitochondrial protein acetylation contribute to the metabolic syndrome.
The dynamics of DNA methylation during the complex genomic rearrangement of antigen receptor genes in developing B lymphocytes reveal localized demethylation of the first recombination product that may serve as a mark necessary for the second step of rearrangement.
Multiple epigenetic marks have been proposed to contribute to the regulation of antigen receptor gene assembly via V(D)J recombination. Here we provide a comprehensive view of DNA methylation at the immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) gene locus prior to and during V(D)J recombination. DNA methylation did not correlate with the histone modification state on unrearranged alleles, indicating that these epigenetic marks were regulated independently. Instead, pockets of tissue-specific demethylation were restricted to DNase I hypersensitive sites within this locus. Though unrearranged diversity (DH) and joining (JH) gene segments were methylated, DJH junctions created after the first recombination step were largely demethylated in pro-, pre-, and mature B cells. Junctional demethylation was highly localized, B-lineage-specific, and required an intact tissue-specific enhancer, Eμ. We propose that demethylation occurs after the first recombination step and may mark the junction for secondary recombination.
DNA methylation at CpG dinucleotides is implicated in the regulation of gene expression in mammals. However, the regulation of DNA methylation itself is less clear despite recent advances in identifying enzymes that add or remove methyl groups. We have investigated the dynamics of DNA methylation during genome rearrangements that assemble antigen receptor genes in developing B lymphocytes to determine whether methylation status correlates with rearrangement potential. Two recombination events generate immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) genes. The first step brings together diversity (DH) and joining (JH) gene segments to produce DJH junctions. We show that both gene segments are methylated prior to rearrangement, whereas the DJH product is demethylated. DJH junctional demethylation is tissue-specific and requires an enhancer, Eμ, located within the IgH locus. The latter observations indicate that localized demethylation of the DJH junction occurs after the first recombination step and thus does not guide this first step of IgH gene assembly. Our working hypothesis is that recombination induces demethylation of recombinant product and may mark the junction for the second step of IgH rearrangement, juxtaposition of variable (VH) gene segments to rearranged DJH products to produce fully recombined V(D)J alleles.
Human and mouse immunoglobulin (Ig) genes are diversified in mature B cells by distinct processes known as Ig heavy chain class switch recombination (CSR) and Ig variable region exon somatic hypermutation (SHM). These DNA modification processes are initiated by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), a DNA cytidine deaminase predominantly expressed in activated B cells. AID is post-transcriptionally regulated via multiple mechanisms including microRNA regulation, nucleo-cytoplasmic shuttling, ubiquitination and phosphorylation. Among these regulatory processes, AID phosphorylation at Serine-38 (S38) has been a focus of particularly intense study and debate. Here, we discuss recent biochemical and mouse genetic studies that begin to elucidate the functional significance of AID S38 phosphorylation in the context of the evolution of this mode of AID regulation and the potential roles that it may play in activated B cells during a normal immune response.
activation-induced cytidine deaminase; class switch recombination; evolution; phosphorylation; somatic hypermutation
Classical non-homologous DNA end-joining (C-NHEJ) is a major mammalian DNA double strand break (DSB) repair pathway. Deficiencies for C-NHEJ factors, such as XRCC4, abrogate lymphocyte development, owing to a strict requirement for C-NHEJ to join V(D)J recombination DSB intermediates1,2. The XRCC4-like factor (XLF) is mutated in certain immunodeficient human patients and has been implicated in C-NHEJ3,4,5,6. Yet, XLF-deficient mice have relatively normal lymphocyte development and their lymphocytes support normal V(D)J recombination5. The Ataxia Telangiectasia-Mutated protein (“ATM”) detects DSBs and activates DSB responses by phosphorylating substrates including histone H2AX7. However, ATM-deficiency causes only modest V(D)J recombination and lymphocyte developmental defects, and H2AX-deficiency does not measurably impact these processes7,8,9. Here, we show that XLF, ATM, and H2AX all have fundamental roles in processing and joining ends during V(D)J recombination; but that these roles have been masked by unanticipated functional redundancies. Thus, combined ATM/XLF-deficiency nearly blocks mouse lymphocyte development due inability to process and join chromosomal V(D)J recombination DSB intermediates. Combined XLF and ATM deficiency also severely impairs C-NHEJ, but not alternative end-joining, during IgH class switch recombination. Redundant ATM and XLF functions in C-NHEJ are mediated via ATM kinase activity and are not required for extra-chromosomal V(D)J recombination, suggesting a role for chromatin-associated ATM substrates. Correspondingly, conditional H2AX inactivation in XLF-deficient pro-B lines leads to V(D)J recombination defects associated with marked degradation of unjoined V(D)J ends, revealing that H2AX indeed has a role in this process.
While chromosomal translocations are common pathogenetic events in cancer, mechanisms that promote them are poorly understood. To elucidate translocation mechanisms in mammalian cells, we developed high throughput, genome-wide translocation sequencing (HTGTS). We employed HTGTS to identify tens of thousands of independent translocation junctions involving fixed I-SceI meganuclease-generated DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) within the c-myc oncogene or IgH locus of B lymphocytes induced for Activation Induced-cytidine Deaminase (AID)-dependent IgH class-switching. DSBs translocated very widely across the genome, but were preferentially targeted to transcribed chromosomal regions and also to numerous AID-dependent and AID-independent hotspots, with the latter being comprised mainly of cryptic genomic I-SceI targets. Comparison of translocation junctions with genome-wide nuclear run-ons revealed a marked association between transcription start sites and translocation targeting. The majority of translocation junctions were formed via end-joining with short micro-homologies. We discuss implications of our findings for diverse fields including gene therapy and cancer genomics.
The extent to which the three dimensional organization of the genome contributes to chromosomal translocations is an important question in cancer genomics. We now have generated a high resolution Hi-C spatial organization map of the G1-arrested mouse pro-B cell genome and mapped translocations from target DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) within it via high throughput genome-wide translocation sequencing. RAG endonuclease-cleaved antigen-receptor loci are dominant translocation partners for target DSBs regardless of genomic position, reflecting high frequency DSBs at these loci and their co-localization in a fraction of cells. To directly assess spatial proximity contributions, we normalized genomic DSBs via ionizing-radiation. Under these conditions, translocations were highly enriched in cis along single chromosomes containing target DSBs and within other chromosomes and sub-chromosomal domains in a manner directly related to pre-existing spatial proximity. Our studies reveal the power of combining two high-throughput genomic methods to address long-standing questions in cancer biology.
Translocations; 3D nuclear organization; DNA double-strand breaks; genome stability
Immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) class switch recombination (CSR) replaces the initially expressed IgH Cμ exons with a set of downstream IgH constant region (CH) exons. Individual sets of CH exons are flanked upstream by long (1–10-kb) repetitive switch (S) regions, with CSR involving a deletional recombination event between the donor Sμ region and a downstream S region. Targeting CSR to specific S regions might be mediated by S region–specific factors. To test the role of endogenous S region sequences in targeting specific CSR events, we generated mutant B cells in which the endogenous 10-kb Sγ1 region was replaced with wild-type (WT) or synthetic 2-kb Sγ3 sequences or a synthetic 2-kb Sγ1 sequence. We found that both the inserted endogenous and synthetic Sγ3 sequences functioned similarly to a size-matched synthetic Sγ1 sequence to mediate substantial CSR to IgG1 in mutant B cells activated under conditions that stimulate IgG1 switching in WT B cells. We conclude that Sγ3 can function similarly to Sγ1 in mediating endogenous CSR to IgG1. The approach that we have developed will facilitate assays for IgH isotype–specific functions of other endogenous S regions.
The DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) and Artemis are classical nonhomologous DNA end-joining (C-NHEJ) factors required for joining a subset of DNA double-strand breaks (DSB), particularly those requiring end processing. In mature B cells, activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) initiates class switch recombination (CSR) by introducing lesions into S regions upstream of two recombining CH exons, which are processed into DSBs and rejoined by C-NHEJ to complete CSR. The function of DNA-PKcs in CSR has been controversial with some reports but not others showing that DNA-PKcs–deficient mice are significantly impaired for CSR. Artemis-deficient B cells reportedly undergo CSR at normal levels. Overall, it is still not known whether there are any CSR-associated DSBs that require DNA-PKcs and/or Artemis to be joined. Here, we have used an immunoglobulin (Ig)H locus-specific fluorescent in situ hybridization assay to unequivocally demonstrate that both DNA-PKcs and, unexpectedly, Artemis are necessary for joining a subset of AID-dependent DSBs. In the absence of either factor, B cells activated for CSR frequently generate AID-dependent IgH locus chromosomal breaks and translocations. We also find that under specific activation conditions, DNA-PKcs−/− B cells with chromosomal breaks are eliminated or at least prevented from progressing to metaphase via a p53-dependent response.
Ageing, or increased mortality with time, coupled with physiologic decline, is a nearly universal yet poorly understood biological phenomenon. Studies in model organisms suggest that two conserved pathways modulate longevity: DNA damage repair and insulin/Igf1-like signaling. In addition, homologs of yeast Sir2 – the sirtuins – regulate lifespan in diverse organisms. Here, we focus on one particular sirtuin, SIRT6. Mice lacking SIRT6 develop a degenerative disorder that in some respects mimics models of accelerated ageing . We discuss how sirtuins in general and SIRT6 specifically relate to other evolutionarily conserved pathways affecting ageing, and how SIRT6 might function to ensure organismal homeostasis and normal lifespan.
Ageing; DNA Damage; Metabolism
Immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) variable region exons are assembled from VH, D and JH gene segments in developing B lymphocytes. Within the 2.7 megabase (Mb) mouse IgH locus (IgH), V(D)J recombination is regulated to ensure specific and diverse antibody repertoires. Herein, we report a key IgH V(D)J recombination regulatory region, termed InterGenic Control Region-1 (IGCR1), that lies between the VH and D clusters. Functionally, IGCR1 employs CTCF looping/insulator factor binding elements and, correspondingly, mediates IgH loops containing distant enhancers. IGCR1 promotes normal B cell development and balances antibody repertoires by inhibiting transcription and rearrangement of DH-proximal VHs and promoting rearrangement of distal VHs. IGCR1 maintains ordered and lineage-specific VH(D)JH recombination, respectively, by suppressing VH joining to Ds not joined to JHs and VH to DJH joins in thymocytes. IGCR1 also is required to allow feedback regulation and allelic exclusion of proximal VH to DJH recombination. Our studies elucidate a long-sought IgH V(D)J recombination control region and implicate a new role for the generally expressed CTCF protein.
RAG1 and RAG2 are the lymphocyte-specific components of the V(D)J recombinase. In vitro analyses of RAG function have relied on soluble, highly truncated “core” RAG proteins. To identify potential functions for noncore regions and assess functionality of core RAG1 in vivo, we generated core RAG1 knockin (RAG1c/c) mice. Significant B and T cell numbers are generated in RAG1c/c mice, showing that core RAG1, despite missing ∼40% of the RAG1 sequence, retains significant in vivo function. However, lymphocyte development and the overall level of V(D)J recombination are impaired at the progenitor stage in RAG1c/c mice. Correspondingly, there are reduced numbers of peripheral RAG1c/c B and T lymphocytes. Whereas normal B lymphocytes undergo rearrangement of both JH loci, substantial levels of germline JH loci persist in mature B cells of RAG1c/c mice, demonstrating that DJH rearrangement on both IgH alleles is not required for developmental progression to the stage of VH to DJH recombination. Whereas VH to DJH rearrangements occur, albeit at reduced levels, on the nonselected alleles of RAG1c/c B cells that have undergone D to JH rearrangements, we do not detect VH to DH rearrangements in RAG1c/c B cells that retain germline JH alleles. We discuss the potential implications of these findings for noncore RAG1 functions and for the ordered assembly of VH, DH, and JH segments.
antigen receptor; DNA cleavage; RS; hybrid joint; immune deficiency
The mitochondrial sirtuin SIRT3 regulates metabolic homeostasis during fasting and calorie restriction. We identified mitochondrial 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA synthase 2 (HMGCS2) as an acetylated protein and a possible target of SIRT3 in a proteomics survey in hepatic mitochondria from Sirt3−/− (SIRT3KO) mice. HMGCS2 is the rate-limiting step in β-hydroxybutyrate synthesis and is hyperacetylated at lysines 310, 447, and 473 in the absence of SIRT3. HMGCS2 is deacetylated by SIRT3 in response to fasting in wild-type mice, but not in SIRT3KO mice. HMGCS2 is deacetylated in vitro when incubated with SIRT3 and in vivo by overexpression of SIRT3. Deacetylation of HMGCS2 lysines 310, 447, and 473 by incubation with wild-type SIRT3 or by mutation to arginine enhances its enzymatic activity. Molecular dynamics simulations show that in silico deacetylation of these three lysines causes conformational changes of HMGCS2 near the active site. Mice lacking SIRT3 show decreased β-hydroxybutyrate levels during fasting. Our findings show SIRT3 regulates ketone body production during fasting and provide molecular insight into how protein acetylation can regulate enzymatic activity.
In the absence of core nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) factors, antibody gene class switch recombination (CSR) uses an alternative-end joining (A-EJ) pathway to recombine switch (S) region DNA breaks. Previous reports showing decreased S-junction microhomologies in MSH2-deficient mice, and an exonuclease1 (EXO1) role in yeast microhomology mediated end joining suggest that mismatch repair (MMR) proteins might influence A-EJ mediated CSR. We have directly investigated whether MMR proteins collectively or differentially influence the A-EJ mechanism of CSR by analyzing CSR in mice deficient in both XRCC4 and individual MMR proteins. We find CSR is reduced and that Igh locus chromosome breaks are reduced in the MMR/XRCC4 double deficient B cells compared to B cells deficient in XRCC4 alone, suggesting MMR proteins function upstream of double strand break formation to influence CSR efficiency in these cells. Our results show that MLH1, EXO1, and MSH2 are all important for efficient A-EJ mediated CSR, and we propose that MMR proteins convert DNA nicks and point mutations into double strand DNA breaks for both C-NHEJ and A-EJ pathways of CSR. We also find Mlh1-XRCC4- B cells have an increased frequency of direct S-junctions, suggesting that MLH1 proteins may have additional functions that influence A-EJ mediated CSR.
B-cells; Antibodies; Knockout Mice; Gene Rearrangement
To elucidate the intracellular pathways that mediate early B cell development, we directed expression of activated Ras to the B cell lineage in the context of the recombination-activating gene 1 (RAG1)-deficient background (referred to as Ras–RAG). Similar to the effects of an immunoglobulin (Ig) μ heavy chain (HC) transgene, activated Ras caused progression of RAG1–deficient progenitor (pro)-B cells to cells that shared many characteristics with precursor (pre)-B cells, including downregulation of surface CD43 expression plus expression of λ5, RAG2, and germline κ locus transcripts. However, these Ras–RAG pre-B cells also upregulated surface markers characteristic of more mature B cell stages and populated peripheral lymphoid tissues, with an overall phenotype reminiscent of B lineage cells generated in a RAG- deficient background as a result of expression of an Ig μ HC together with a Bcl-2 transgene. Taken together, these findings suggest that activated Ras signaling in pro-B cells induces developmental progression by activating both differentiation and survival signals.
B cell development; pre-B cell receptor; signal transduction; Ras; recombinase-activating gene 2–deficient blastocyst complementation
A complex of KAP1 and HP1 is needed to tether AID to the H3K9me3-marked donor switch region during CSR.
Immunoglobulin class switch recombination (CSR) is initiated by double-stranded DNA breaks (DSBs) in switch regions triggered by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID). Although CSR correlates with epigenetic modifications at the IgH locus, the relationship between these modifications and AID remains unknown. In this study, we show that during CSR, AID forms a complex with KAP1 (KRAB domain–associated protein 1) and HP1 (heterochromatin protein 1) that is tethered to the donor switch region (Sμ) bearing H3K9me3 (trimethylated histone H3 at lysine 9) in vivo. Furthermore, in vivo disruption of this complex results in impaired AID recruitment to Sμ, inefficient DSB formation, and a concomitant defect in CSR but not in somatic hypermutation. We propose that KAP1 and HP1 tether AID to H3K9me3 residues at the donor switch region, thus providing a mechanism linking AID to epigenetic modifications during CSR.
The generation of a productive “in-frame” T cell receptor β (TCR β), immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy (H) or Ig light (L) chain variable region gene can result in the cessation of rearrangement of the alternate allele, a process referred to as allelic exclusion. This process ensures that most αβ T cells express a single TCR β chain and most B cells express single IgH and IgL chains. Assembly of TCR α and TCR γ chain variable region genes exhibit allelic inclusion and αβ and γδ T cells can express two TCR α or TCR γ chains, respectively. However, it was not known whether assembly of TCR δ variable regions genes is regulated in the context of allelic exclusion. To address this issue, we have analyzed TCR δ rearrangements in a panel of mouse splenic γδ T cell hybridomas. We find that, similar to TCR α and γ variable region genes, assembly of TCR δ variable region genes exhibits properties of allelic inclusion. These findings are discussed in the context of γδ T cell development and regulation of rearrangement of TCR δ genes.
T cells; γδ T cells; T cell receptor rearrangement; allelic exclusion; T cell receptor δ
The 40-kb region downstream of the most 3′ immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy chain constant region gene (Cα) contains a series of transcriptional enhancers speculated to play a role in Ig heavy chain class switch recombination (CSR). To elucidate the function of this putative CSR regulatory region, we generated mice with germline mutations in which one or the other of the two most 5′ enhancers in this cluster (respectively referred to as HS3a and HS1,2) were replaced either with a pgk-neor cassette (referred to as HS3aN and HS1,2N mutations) or with a loxP sequence (referred to as HS3aΔ and HS1,2Δ, respectively). B cells homozygous for the HS3aN or HS1,2N mutations had severe defects in CSR to several isotypes. The phenotypic similarity of the two insertion mutations, both of which were cis-acting, suggested that inhibition might result from pgk-neor cassette gene insertion rather than enhancer deletion. Accordingly, CSR returned to normal in B cells homozygous for the HS3aΔ or HS1,2Δ mutations. In addition, induced expression of the specifically targeted pgk-neor genes was regulated similarly to that of germline CH genes. Our findings implicate a 3′ CSR regulatory locus that appears remarkably similar in organization and function to the β-globin gene 5′ LCR and which we propose may regulate differential CSR via a promoter competition mechanism.
immunoglobulin genes; class switching; enhancers; gene-targeted mutation; transcription
Immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy chain (HC) class switch recombination (CSR) is a late B cell process that involves intrachromosomal DNA rearrangement. Ku70 and Ku80 form a DNA end-binding complex required for DNA double strand break repair and V(D)J recombination. Ku70−/− (K70T) mice, like recombination activating gene (RAG)-1– or RAG-2–deficient (R1T or R2T) mice, have impaired B and T cell development at an early progenitor stage, which is thought to result at least in part from defective V(D)J recombination (Gu, Y., K.J. Seidl, G.A. Rathbun, C. Zhu, J.P. Manis, N. van der Stoep, L. Davidson, H.L. Cheng, J.M. Sekiguchi, K. Frank, et al. 1997. Immunity. 7:653–665; Ouyang, H., A. Nussenzweig, A. Kurimasa, V.C. Soares, X. Li, C. Cordon-Cardo, W. Li, N. Cheong, M. Nussenzweig, G. Iliakis, et al. 1997. J. Exp. Med. 186:921–929). Therefore, to examine the potential role of Ku70 in CSR, we generated K70T mice that carry a germline Ig HC locus in which the JH region was replaced with a functionally rearranged VH(D)JH and Ig λ light chain transgene (referred to as K70T/HL mice). Previously, we have shown that B cells from R1T or R2T mice carrying these rearranged Ig genes (R1T/HL or R2T/HL mice) can undergo CSR to IgG isotypes (Lansford, R., J. Manis, E. Sonoda, K. Rajewsky, and F. Alt. 1998. Int. Immunol. 10:325–332). K70T/HL mice had significant numbers of peripheral surface IgM+ B cells, which generated serum IgM levels similar to those of R2T/HL mice. However, in contrast to R2T/HL mice, K70T/HL mice had no detectable serum IgG isotypes. In vitro culture of K70T/HL B cells with agents that induce CSR in normal or R2T/HL B cells did lead to the induction of germline CH transcripts, indicating that initial signaling pathways for CSR were intact in K70T/HL cells. However, treatment with such agents did not lead to detectable CSR by K70T/HL B cells, and instead, led to cell death within 72 h. We conclude that Ku70 is required for the generation of B cells that have undergone Ig HC class switching. Potential roles for Ku70 in the CSR process are discussed.
immunoglobulin class switch recombination; Ku70; recombination activating gene 2; B cell development
The transcription factor Batf controls TH17 differentiation by regulating the expression of both RORγt and RORγt target genes such as Il17. Here, we report the mechanism by which Batf controls in vivo class switch recombination (CSR). In T cells, Batf directly controls expression of the transcription factors Bcl-6 and c-Maf, both of which are needed for development of T follicular helper (TFH) cells. Restoring TFH activity to Batf−/− T cells in vivo requires co-expression of both Bcl-6 and c-Maf. In B cells, Batf directly controls the expression of both activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) and of IH-CH germline transcripts. Thus, Batf functions at multiple hierarchical levels across two cell types to globally regulate in vivo switched antibody responses.
Activation Induced cytidine Deaminase (AID) initiates Immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy chain (IgH) class switch recombination (CSR) and Ig variable region somatic hypermutation (SHM) in B lymphocytes by deaminating cytidines on template and non-template strands of transcribed DNA substrates. However, the mechanism of AID access to the template DNA strand, particularly when hybridized to a nascent RNA transcript, has been an enigma. We now implicate the RNA exosome, a cellular RNA processing/degradation complex, in targeting AID to both DNA strands. In B-lineage cells activated for CSR, the RNA exosome associates with AID, accumulates on IgH switch regions in an AID-dependent fashion, and is required for optimal CSR. Moreover, both the cellular RNA exosome complex and a recombinant RNA exosome core complex impart robust AID- and transcription-dependent DNA deamination of both strands of transcribed SHM substrates in vitro. Our findings reveal a role for non-coding RNA surveillance machinery in generating antibody diversity.
Lymphostromal cross-talk in the thymus is essential to allow generation of a diversified repertoire of T lymphocytes and to prevent autoimmunity by self-reactive T cells. Hypomorphic mutations in genes that control T cell development have been associated with immunodeficiency and immune dysregulation both in humans and in mice. We have studied T cell development and thymic stroma architecture and maturation in two mouse models of leaky severe combined immune deficiency, carrying hypomorphic mutations in rag1 and lig4 genes. Defective T cell development was associated with abnormalities of thymic architecture that predominantly affect the thymic medulla, with reduction of the pool of mature medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs). While the ability of mTECs to express autoimmune regulator (Aire) is preserved in mutant mice, the frequency of mature mTECs expressing Aire and tissue-specific antigens is severely reduced. Similarly, the ability of CD4+ T cells to differentiate into Foxp3+ natural regulatory T cells is preserved in rag1 and lig4 mutant mice, but their number is greatly reduced. These data indicate that hypomorphic defects in T cell development may cause defective lymphostromal cross-talk and impinge on thymic stromal cells maturation, and thus favor immune dysregulation.
severe combined immunodeficiency; recombination-activating gene 1; DNA ligase 4; thymic epithelial cells; thymus; dendritic cells; Aire; regulatory T cells
Immunoglobulin variable region exons are assembled from discontinuous variable (V), diversity (D), and joining (J) segments by the process of V(D)J recombination. V(D)J rearrangements of the immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) locus are tightly controlled in a tissue-specific, ordered and allele-specific manner by regulating accessibility of V, D, and J segments to the recombination activating gene proteins which are the specific components of the V(D)J recombinase. In this review we discuss recent advances and established models brought forward to explain the mechanisms underlying accessibility control of V(D)J recombination, including research on germline transcripts, spatial organization, and chromatin modifications of the immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) locus. Furthermore, we review the functions of well-described and potential new cis-regulatory elements with regard to processes such as V(D)J recombination, allelic exclusion, and IgH class switch recombination.
Recurrent chromosomal abnormalities, especially chromosomal translocations, are strongly associated with certain subtypes of leukemia, lymphoma and solid tumors. The appearance of particular translocations or associated genomic alterations can be important indicators of disease prognosis, and in some cases, certain translocations may indicate appropriate therapy protocols. To date, most of our knowledge about chromosomal translocations has derived from characterization of the highly selected recurrent translocations found in certain cancers. Until recently, mechanisms that promote or suppress chromosomal translocations, in particular, those responsible for their initiation, have not been addressed. For translocations to occur, two distinct chromosomal loci must be broken, brought together (synapsed) and joined. Here, we discuss recent findings on processes and pathways that influence the initiation of chromosomal translocations, including the generation fo DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) by general factors or in the context of the Lymphocyte-specific V(D)J and IgH class-switch recombination processes. We also discuss the role of spatial proximity of DSBs in the interphase nucleus with respect to how DSBs on different chromosomes are justaposed for joining. In addition, we discuss the DNA DSB response and its role in recognizing and tethering chromosomal DSBs to prevent translocations, as well as potential roles of the classical and alternative DSB end-joining pathways in suppressing or promoting translocations. Finally, we discuss the potential roles of long range regulatory elements, such as the 3’IgH enhancer complex, in promoting the expression of certain translocations that are frequent in lymphomas and, thereby, contributing to their frequent appearance in tumors.
Ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) deficiency predisposes humans and mice to T lineage lymphomas with recurrent chromosome 14 translocations involving the T cell receptor α/δ (Tcra/d) locus. Such translocations have been thought to result from aberrant repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) during Tcra locus V(D)J recombination, and to require the Tcra enhancer (Eα) for Tcra rearrangement or expression of the translocated oncogene. We now show that, in addition to the known chromosome 14 translocation, ATM-deficient mouse thymic lymphomas routinely contain a centromeric fragment of chromosome 14 that spans up to the 5′ boundary of the Tcra/d locus, at which position a 500-kb or larger region centromeric to Tcra/d is routinely amplified. In addition, they routinely contain a large deletion of the telomeric end of one copy of chromosome 12. In contrast to prior expectations, the recurrent translocations and amplifications involve V(D)J recombination–initiated breaks in the Tcrd locus, as opposed to the Tcra locus, and arise independently of the Eα. Overall, our studies reveal previously unexpected mechanisms that contribute to the oncogenic transformation of ATM-deficient T lineage cells.