Analysis of nonhomologous recombination events at the Ig loci revealed that a four base sequence, 5'-CCAG-3', or its complement, 5'-CTGG-3', is present within seven nucleotides in 12 of the 13 examined recombination breakpoints. Statistical analysis of the data indicates that this occurrence has a probability of less than 10(-5) of occurring by chance. This sequence is infrequently found at nonhomologous recombination breakpoints in non-Ig sequences, suggesting that its contribution may be either Ig- or B cell-specific. Intriguingly, this tetranucleotide is also found to be associated with the breakpoints of VH gene replacement and isotype switching, suggesting that common pathways may be involved in all three B cell processes.

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