V(D)J recombination is the process that generates the diversity among T cell receptors and is one of three mechanisms that contribute to the diversity of antibodies in the vertebrate immune system. The mechanism requires precise cutting of the DNA at segment boundaries followed by rejoining of particular pairs of the resulting termini. The imprecision of aspects of the joining reaction contributes significantly to increasing the variability of the resulting functional genes. Signal sequences target DNA recombination and must participate in a highly ordered protein-DNA complex in order to limit recombination to appropriate partners. Two proteins, RAG1 and RAG2, together form the nuclease that cleaves the DNA at the border of the signal sequences. Additional roles of these proteins in organizing the reaction complex for subsequent steps are explored.
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