T cell receptor (TCR) β gene assembly by V(D)J recombination proceeds via successive Dβ-to-Jβ and Vβ-to-DJβ rearrangements. This two-step process is enforced by a constraint, termed beyond (B)12/23, which prohibits direct Vβ-to-Jβ rearrangements. However the B12/23 restriction does not explain the order of TCRβ assembly for which the regulation remains an unresolved issue. The initiation of V(D)J recombination consists of the introduction of single-strand DNA nicks at recombination signal sequences (RSSs) containing a 12 base-pairs spacer. An RSS containing a 23 base-pairs spacer is then captured to form a 12/ 23 RSSs synapse leading to coupled DNA cleavage. Herein, we probed RSS nicks at the TCRβ locus and found that nicks were only detectable at Dβ-associated RSSs. This pattern implies that Dβ 12RSS and, unexpectedly, Dβ 23RSS initiate V(D)J recombination and capture their respective Vβ or Jβ RSS partner. Using both in vitro and in vivo assays, we further demonstrate that the Dβ1 23RSS impedes cleavage at the adjacent Dβ1 12RSS and consequently Vβ-to-Dβ1 rearrangement first requires the Dβ1 23RSS excision. Altogether, our results provide the molecular explanation to the B12/23 constraint and also uncover a 'Dβ1 23RSS-mediated' restriction operating beyond chromatin accessibility, which directs Dβ1 ordered rearrangements. © 2009 Franchini et al.
Franchini, D. M., Benoukraf, T., Jaegar, S., Ferrier, P., & Payet-Bornet, D. (2009). Initiation of V(D)J recombination by Dβ-associated recombination signal sequences: A critical control point in TCRβ gene assembly. PLoS ONE, 4(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0004575