Mechanics of T cell receptor gene rearrangement.
The four T cell receptor genes (Tcra, Tcrb, Tcrg, Tcrd) are assembled by V(D)J recombination according to distinct programs during intrathymic T cell development. These programs depend on genetic factors, including gene segment order and recombination signal sequences. They also depend on epigenetic factors. Regulated changes in chromatin structure, directed by enhancers and promoter, can modify the availability of recombination signal sequences to the RAG recombinase. Regulated changes in locus conformation may control the synapsis of distant recombination signal sequences, and regulated changes in subnuclear positioning may influence locus recombination events by unknown mechanisms. Together these influences may explain the ordered activation and inactivation of T cell receptor locus recombination events and the phenomenon of Tcrb allelic exclusion.
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