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Cell (Cell). 2016, 166(1): 102-114
Discovery of an active RAG transposon illuminates the origins of V(D)J recombination
Huang S, Tao X, Yuan S, Zhang Y, Li P, Beilinson HA, Zhang Y, Yu W, Pontarotti P, Escriva H, Le Petillon Y, Liu X, Chen S, Schatz DG, Xu A*
State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, Guangdong Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Functional Genes, School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, People's Republic of China Email:lssxal@mail.sysu.edu.cn

Abstract:

Co-option of RAG1 and RAG2 for antigen receptor gene assembly by V(D)J recombination was a crucial event in the evolution of jawed vertebrate adaptive immunity. RAG1/2 are proposed to have arisen from a transposable element, but definitive evidence for this is lacking. Here, we report the discovery of ProtoRAG, a DNA transposon family from lancelets, the most basal extant chordates. A typical ProtoRAG is flanked by 5-bp target site duplications and a pair of terminal inverted repeats (TIRs) resembling V(D)J recombination signal sequences. Between the TIRs reside tail-to-tail-oriented, intron-containing RAG1-like and RAG2-like genes. We demonstrate that ProtoRAG was recently active in the lancelet germline and that the lancelet RAG1/2-like proteins can mediate TIR-dependent transposon excision, host DNA recombination, transposition, and low-efficiency TIR rejoining using reaction mechanisms similar to those used by vertebrate RAGs. We propose that ProtoRAG represents a molecular “living fossil” of the long-sought RAG transposon.
[PMID: 27293192] Download PDF(this site) Download PDF(origin site)

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