• altered DNA structures;
  • chromosomal translocation;
  • class switch recombination;
  • DNA damage;
  • double-strand break;
  • genomic instability;
  • non-homologous DNA end joining;
  • recombination activating gene


V(D)J recombination is the process by which antibody and T-cell receptor diversity is attained. During this process, antigen receptor gene segments are cleaved and rejoined by non-homologous DNA end joining for the generation of combinatorial diversity. The major players of the initial process of cleavage are the proteins known as RAG1 (recombination activating gene 1) and RAG2. In this review, we discuss the physiological function of RAGs as a sequence-specific nuclease and its pathological role as a structure-specific nuclease. The first part of the review discusses the basic mechanism of V(D)J recombination, and the last part focuses on how the RAG complex functions as a sequence-specific and structure-specific nuclease. It also deals with the off-target cleavage of RAGs and its implications in genomic instability.