Does V(D)J recombination only happen in B and T cell development? Can it happen in other types of cells?

If V(D)J recombination only happens in B and T cell development, why other types of cells cannot have V(D)J recombination?

Edit 1:

V(D)J recombination rearranges the DNA sequences of maturing B and T cells that encode proteins for recognizing antigens, so that different B and T cells may recognize different antigens for initiating further immune response.

Recombination activating gene 1 (RAG1) and RAG2 proteins are essential for rearranging the DNA sequences in V(D)J recombination. RAG recognize specific DNA sequences, called recombination signal sequences (RSSs), that are adjacent to the variable regions of the genes that encode proteins for antigen recognization.

V(D)J recombination occasionally happens in natural killer (NK) and dendritic cells [1, 2].

So the answer to my question is that V(D)J recombination is not restricted to B and T cell development.

I would like to thank @swbarnes2 for pointing out the importance of RAG1 in V(D)J recombination. Also thank @MattDMo for introducing me to the community guidelines.

This question is not my homework. I am just curious why V(D)J recombination seems to be only discussed in the context of B and T cell development.


[1] Kuo TC, Schlissel MS. Mechanisms controlling expression of the RAG locus during lymphocyte development. Curr Opin Immunol. 2009;21: 173–178.

[2] Borghesi L, Hsu L-Y, Miller JP, Anderson M, Herzenberg L, Herzenberg L, et al. B lineage-specific regulation of V(D)J recombinase activity is established in common lymphoid progenitors. J Exp Med. 2004;199: 491–502.

Edit 2:

Added some highlights to my edit 1.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why would other cells need to undergo somatic recombination like B and T cells do? $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Feb 2 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ you are the one posing the question, therefore you need to support its validity. Hypothetical "what if...?" questions are off-topic here. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Feb 2 at 20:02
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Your question already has 3 downvotes and 3 close votes because the Biology.SE community has agreed that questions that show little or no prior research effort are off-topic on this site unless you have shown your attempt at an answer. Please edit your question and tell us where you've looked for answers, what you do know about the topic, and where exactly you still have questions. Please see our homework policy for more information. Your 2 questions can be easily answered with a Google search or by looking at a textbook. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Feb 2 at 20:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Homework" is interpreted to mean any academic or other assignment, test preparation, or task given in relation to a class, educational setting, or self-learning. Our goal is not to simply be an answer site, but rather a site that promotes self-learning with some expert help along the way. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Feb 2 at 20:13

The genes that do recombination likely aren't expressed in any other tissues. A quick look at expression of RAG1 shows expression in immune cells, and not really anywhere else.

  • $\begingroup$ It's not just "likely" they're not expressed in other cell types, they just aren't period. Otherwise DNA rearrangements could run amok and cause a lot of damage. They're very tightly controlled in developing T and B cells, along with mature B cells undergoing hypermutation. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Feb 2 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ I think genes like RAG1 are already tightly bound to work only on receptor genes and nowhere else; there's just no point in rearranging receptor genes in cells which will never express them. $\endgroup$
    – swbarnes2
    Feb 2 at 21:38

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