The periodic destruction of RAG-2 at the G1-to-S transition couples V(D)J recombination to the G0 and G1 cell cycle phases and coordinates RAG-mediated DNA cleavage with DNA repair by nonhomologous end joining. To define the mechanism by which this occurs, we reproduced cell cycle-dependent regulation of the V(D)J recombinase in a cell-free system. The ubiquitin-proteasomal pathway carries out destruction of RAG-2 in lysates of S phase cells and during S phase in vivo. Remarkably, the Skp2-SCF ubiquitin ligase, which plays a central role in cell cycle regulation through the destruction of p27, mediates ubiquitylation of RAG-2 in vitro and degradation of RAG-2 in vivo. The regulation of antigen receptor gene assembly by Skp2-SCF provides an unexpected and direct mechanistic link between DNA recombination and the cell cycle.
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