During the assembly of immunoglobulin and T cell receptor variable region genes from variable (V), diversity (D), and joining (J) segments, the germline-encoded repertoire is further diversified by processes that include the template-independent addition of nucleotides (N regions) at gene segment junctions. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT)-deficient lymphocytes had no N regions in their variable region genes, which shows that TdT is responsible for N region addition. In addition, certain variable region genes appeared at increased frequency in TdT-deficient thymocytes, which indicates that N region addition also influences repertoire development by alleviating sequence-specific constraints imposed on the joining of particular V, D, and J segments.
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