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Genetics. 1983 Nov; 105(3): 681–721.
PMCID: PMC1202181

Mitochondrial DNA Evolution in Mice


This study extends knowledge of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) diversity in mice to include 208 animals belonging to eight species in the subgenus Mus. Highly purified mtDNA from each has been subjected to high-resolution restriction mapping with respect to the known sequence of one mouse mtDNA. Variation attributed to base substitutions was encountered at about 200 of the 300 cleavage sites examined, and a length mutation was located in or near the displacement loop. The variability of different functional regions in this genome was as follows, from least to most: ribosomal RNA, transfer RNA, known proteins, displacement loop and unidentified reading frames.—Phylogenetic analysis confirmed the utility of the Sage and Marshall revision of mouse classification, according to which there are at least four species of commensal mice and three species of aboriginal mice in the complex that was formerly considered to be one species. The most thoroughly studied of these species is Mus domesticus, the house mouse of Western Europe and the Mediterranean region, which is the mitochondrial source of all 50 of the laboratory strains examined and of the representatives of wild house mice introduced by Europeans to North and South America during the past few hundred years.—The level of mtDNA variation among wild representatives of (M. musculus) and several other mammalian species. By contrast, among the many laboratory strains that are known or suspected to stem from the pet mouse trade, there is little interstrain variation, most strains having the "old inbred" type of domesticus mtDNA, whose frequency in the 145 wild mice examined is low, about 0.04. Also notable is the apparent homogeneity of mtDNA in domesticus races that have fixed six or more fused chromosomes and the close relationship of some of these mtDNAs to those of karyotypically normal mice.—In addition, this paper discusses fossil and other evidence for the view that in mice, as in many other mammals, the average rate of point mutational divergence in mtDNA is 2–4% per million years. From this, it is estimated that the commensal association between mice and our ancestors began more than a million years ago, i.e., at an early stage in the evolution of Homo erectus.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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