Osipovich OA, Subrahmanyam R, Pierce S, Sen R, Oltz EM
The stepwise process of Ag receptor gene assembly, termed V(D)J recombination, is coordinated during lymphocyte development by sweeping changes in chromatin that permit or deny access to a single recombinase enzyme. We now show that switching/sucrose nonfermenting (SWI/SNF) chromatin remodeling complexes are recruited to the Igh locus by an enhancer-dependent process and that these complexes are essential for generating recombinase accessibility throughout the locus. Depletion of SWI/SNF in pro-B cells also inhibits antisense transcription through all clusters of Igh gene segments, a pioneering process that has been implicated in the initial opening of chromatin. We conclude that SWI/SNF complexes play multiple roles in Igh gene assembly, ranging from initial locus activation to the spreading and maintenance of chromatin accessibility over large V(H), D(H), and J(H) domains.