Recombination activating genes (RAG-1 and RAG-2), involved in V(D)J rearrangement of immunoglobulin genes, have been thought to be expressed only in immature stages of B-cell development. However, RAG-1 and RAG-2 transcripts were found to be re-expressed in mature mouse B cells after culture with interleukin-4 in association with several different co-stimuli. Reexpression was also detected in draining lymph nodes from immunized mice. RAG-1 and RAG-2 proteins could be detected by immunofluorescence microscopy in the nuclei of B cells cultured in vitro and in the germinal centers of draining lymph nodes. These findings suggest that RAG gene products play a heretofore unsuspected role in mature B cells.
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