Recombinase-activating gene (RAG) proteins play a fundamental role in lymph
oid development. As heterodimeric endonucleases, they initiate V (D) J reco
mbination, a lymphocyte-specific process that assembles B- and T-cell antig
en receptor genes from subgenic V, D, and J elements. Recently, the functio
n of the RAG protein domains has been characterized better. A complete loss
of RAG function causes SCID without B and T cells (B-T- SCID). Hypomorphic
RAG alleles with residual V (D) J recombination function result in an immu
nodeficiency with autoreactive manifestations (i.e., Omenn's syndrome).