Faculty Research 1990 - 1999

High-frequency germ line gene conversion in transgenic mice.

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Animal, Evolution, Gene-Conversion, Genes-Reiterated, Male, Meiosis, Mice, Mice-Transgenic: ge, Mitosis, Recombination-Genetic, SUPPORT-NON-U-S-GOVT, Y-Chromosome

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Mol Cell Biol 1992 Jun;12(6):2545-52


Gene conversion is the nonreciprocal transfer of genetic information between two related genes or DNA sequences. It can influence the evolution of gene families, having the capacity to generate both diversity and homogeneity. The potential evolutionary significance of this process is directly related to its frequency in the germ line. While measurement of meiotic inter- and intrachromosomal gene conversion frequency is routine in fungal systems, it has hitherto been impractical in mammals. We have designed a system for identifying and quantitating germ line gene conversion in mice by analyzing transgenic male gametes for a contrived recombination event. Spermatids which undergo the designed intrachromosomal gene conversion produce functional beta-galactosidase (encoded by the lacZ gene), which is visualized by histochemical staining. We observed a high incidence of lacZ-positive spermatids (approximately 2%), which were produced by a combination of meiotic and mitotic conversion events. These results demonstrate that gene conversion in mice is an active recombinational process leading to nonparental gametic haplotypes. This high frequency of intrachromosomal gene conversion seems incompatible with the evolutionary divergence of newly duplicated genes. Hence, a process may exist to uncouple gene pairs from frequent conversion-mediated homogenization.

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