ABSTRACT: Chromosomal translocations involving antigen receptor genes and oncogenes have been observed in several forms of lymphoid malignancy. Observations of their lymphocyte-restricted occurrence and a molecular analysis of some translocation breakpoints have suggested that some of these rearrangements are generated by V(D)J recombinase activity. However, a direct correlation between this activity and the generation of such rearrangements has never been established. In addition, because these aberrant rearrangements are usually detected only after a tumor has been formed, the frequency with which the recombinase machinery generates translocations has never been assessed directly. To approach these issues, immunoglobulin light-chain gene rearrangements were induced in pre-B cells transformed by temperature-sensitive mutants of Abelson murine leukemia virus and PCR was used to identify interlocus recombinants. Vlambda Jkappa and Vkappa Jlambda rearrangements as well as signal joints resulting from the recombination of Vlambda and Jkappa coding elements were recovered and were found to be similar in structure to conventional intrachromosomal joints. Because these products were detected only when the cells were undergoing active intralocus rearrangement, they provide direct evidence that translocations can be generated by the V(D)J recombinase machinery. Dilution analyses revealed that interlocus rearrangements occur about 1,000 times less frequently than conventional intralocus rearrangements. Considering the large numbers of lymphocytes generated throughout life, aberrant rearrangements generated by the V(D)J recombinase may be relatively common.
Molecular and Cellular Biology 03/1997; 17(2):887-94. · 5.53 Impact Factor