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Cell. 1979 Oct;18(2):347-59.

Heterogeneity of genetic loci in chickens: analysis of endogenous viral and nonviral genes by cleavage of DNA with restriction endonucleases.


Restriction endonucleases can be used to define the structure and position of genetic loci for which specific molecular hybridization reagents are available. We have used this approach to compare 18 chicken embryos with respect to several cellular genes; endogenous viral DNA related to the replicative genes of avian sarcoma virus (ASV) or to RAV-O, an endogenous virus of chickens; and sequences related to the transforming (src) gene of ASV. Each cellular gene eas remarkably homogeneous within our test population. We found little or no variation in globin and ovomucoid genes; ovalbumin and transferrin (with one exception) showed variation which is probably allelic in nature. The endogenous viral DNA which has homology with RAV-O was found at several different positions in host DNA and its structure resembled that of proviruses acquired by experimental infection, with sequences from both ends of viral RNA repeated near both ends of viral DNA. Within the population of 18 chickens, one endogenous provirus was always present, whereas the several other proviruses were each found in only a few members of this group. However, screening of additional chickens identified individuals lacking the provirus common to the initial 18 animals surveyed; in at least one embryo no RAV-O-related DNA was detected. These findings suggest that the endogenous RAV-O-related sequences have entered the germ line by relatively recent infection and are still segregating in several contemporary chicken flocks. The sequences in the chicken genome which have homology with the src gene of ASV are invariant from bird to bird and in this sense resemble a cellular gene rather than a viral sequence.

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