Deoxyribonucleic acid double-stranded breaks act as intermediates in Ig V(D)J recombination and probably perform a similar function in class switch recombination between IgH C genes. In SCID mice, V(D)J recombination is blocked because the DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) protein is defective. We show in this study that switching to all isotypes examined was detectable when the SCID mutation was introduced into anti-hen egg lysozyme transgenic B cells capable of undergoing class switch recombination, but switching was significantly reduced in comparison with control B cells of the same specificity lacking the RAG1 gene. Thus, DNA-PKcs is involved in switching to all isotypes, but plays a lesser role in the switching process than it does in V(D)J-coding joint formation. The higher level of switching observed by us in SCID B cells compared with that observed by others in DNA-PKcs(null) cells raises the possibility that kinase-deficient DNA-PKcs can function in switching. Point mutation of G:C base pairs with cytidines on the sense strand was greatly reduced in recombined switchregions from SCID cells compared with control RAG1(-/-) B cells. The preferential loss of sense strand cytidine mutations from hybrid S regions in SCID cells suggests the possibility that nicks might form in S regions of activated B cells on the template strand independently of activation-induced cytidine deaminase and are converted to double-strand breaks when activation-induced cytidine deaminase deaminates the non-template strand.
Journal of Immunology, 171(2003), 6456-6464.