Researchers illustrate how splicing events make new, diverse antibodies

Our immune cells use a gene assembly process called V(D)J recombination to mix the genetic code and generate new antibodies that conquer pathogens and threaten our health. But, a new study illustrates how gene segments come together to make new kinds of antibodies. 

Using B-cells, a type of immune cell, researchers show in detail how a pair of enzymes called RAG1 and RAG2 help to initiate the first few steps of V(D)J recombination. These steps help the chromatin loops, the way the DNA is packaged inside the cell, bring two relatively distant DNA segments close together to help make a particular protein. 

Researchers also identified that other factors are involved in making new loops quickly, like during antibody formation. They also established the role of the cohesion protein during the recombination process. 

The findings, published in Nature, advance researchers’ understanding of the processes for antibody formation and gene regulation in general. The study was partly funded by NHLBI. 

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