The process by which most vertebrates assemble immunoglobin (Ig) and T cell receptor (TCR) genes during the development of lymphoid cells. In the germ cells, the genes that encode the variable portions of the Ig and T cell receptor heterodimers are split into V (variable), J (joining), and sometimes D (diversity) segments. In immature lymphoid cells, segments of each type are joined together to make a V-J or a V-D-J fusion product. V(D)J recombination involves DNA cleavage catalyzed by an element that behaves like a transposase (q.v.). The element is the product of two genes, RAG-1 and RAG-2 (q.v.). See Chronology, 1990, Oettinger et al.; allelic exclusion, B lymphocyte, immunoglobulin chains, immunoglobulin genes, somatic recombination, T cell receptor genes, T lymphocyte.
Subjects: Genetics and Genomics.