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<jats:p>Immunoglobulin (Ig) class switching is initiated by deamination of C→U within the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus, catalyzed by activation-induced deaminase (AID). In the absence of uracil-DNA glycosylase (UNG) and the homologue of bacterial MutS (MSH)–2 mismatch recognition protein, the resultant U:G lesions are not processed into switching events but are fixed by replication allowing sites of AID-catalyzed deamination to be identified by the resulting C→T mutations. We find that AID targets cytosines in both donor and acceptor switch regions (S regions) with the deamination domains initiating ∼150 nucleotides 3′ of the I exon start sites and extending over several kilobases (the IgH intronic enhancer is spared). Culturing B cells with interleukin 4 or interferon γ specifically enhanced deamination around Sγ1 and Sγ2a, respectively. Mutation spectra suggest that, in the absence of UNG and MSH2, AID may occasionally act at the μ switch region in an apparently processive manner, but there is no marked preference for targeting of the transcribed versus nontranscribed strand (even in areas capable of R loop formation). The data are consistent with switch recombination being triggered by transcription-associated, strand-symmetric AID-mediated deamination at both donor and acceptor S regions with cytokines directing isotype specificity by potentiating AID recruitment to the relevant acceptor S region.</jats:p>

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Experimental Medicine


Rockefeller University Press

Publication Date





2085 - 2094