HMG-box domain stimulation of RAG1/2 cleavage activity is metal ion dependent

Aleksei N. Kriatchko, Serge Bergeron, Patrick C. Swanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: RAG1 and RAG2 initiate V(D)J recombination by assembling a synaptic complex with a pair of antigen receptor gene segments through interactions with their flanking recombination signal sequence (RSS), and then introducing a DNA double-strand break at each RSS, separating it from the adjacent coding segment. While the RAG proteins are sufficient to mediate RSS binding and cleavage in vitro, these activities are stimulated by the architectural DNA binding and bending factors HMGB1 and HMGB2. Two previous studies (Bergeron et al., 2005, and Dai et al., 2005) came to different conclusions regarding whether only one of the two DNA binding domains of HMGB1 is sufficient to stimulate RAG-mediated binding and cleavage of naked DNA in vitro. Here we test whether this apparent discrepancy is attributed to the choice of divalent metal ion and the concentration of HMGB1 used in the cleavage reaction. Results: We show here that single HMG-box domains of HMGB1 stimulate RAG-mediated RSS cleavage in a concentration-dependent manner in the presence of Mn2+, but not Mg2+. Interestingly, the inability of a single HMG-box domain to stimulate RAG-mediated RSS cleavage in Mg is overcome by the addition of partner RSS to promote synapsis. Furthermore, we show that mutant forms of HMGB1 which otherwise fail to stimulate RAG-mediated RSS cleavage in Mg2+ can be substantially rescued when Mg2+ is replaced with Mn2+. Conclusion: The conflicting data published previously in two different laboratories can be substantially explained by the choice of divalent metal ion and abundance of HMGB1 in the cleavage reaction. The observation that single HMG-box domains can promote RAG-mediated 23-RSS cleavage in Mg2+ in the presence, but not absence, of partner RSS suggests that synaptic complex assembly in vitro is associated with conformational changes that alter how the RAG and/or HMGB1 proteins bind and bend DNA in a manner that functionally replaces the role of one of the HMG-box domains in RAG-HMGB1 complexes assembled on a single RSS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number32
JournalBMC Molecular Biology
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology


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