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IMMUNOLOGY

A new twist on V(D)J recombination

A series of new cryo-EM structures reveals a surprising twist in how the RAG complex initiates V(D)J recombination. The initial complex with substrate DNA adopts two conformations: in one, the DNA is relatively undistorted but the scissile phosphate is far from the active site, and in the other the DNA is partially melted and unwound by half a turn, which allows the scissile phosphate to dock into the active site. Similar pre-catalysis DNA melting may occur with other DDE recombinases, for which equivalent complexes with uncleaved substrate DNA are not yet available.

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Correspondence to Phoebe A. Rice.

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Further reading

Fig. 1: DNA gymnastics in V(D)J recombination.