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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 1995 Dec;5(6):709-16.

Comparative maps: the mammalian jigsaw puzzle.

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Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, USA.


Chromosomal rearrangements such as inversions and translocations have played an important role in defining genome organization in existing mammals. The number of rearrangements that have occurred since divergence from the 'primordial' mammal has been modest and the distribution of these rearrangements among chromosomes seems to be random. As a result, each mammalian species has a unique arrangement of conserved and disrupted chromosomal segments as compared to other mammalian species. Genes are excellent markers for these chromosomal segments because homologies can be detected in highly divergent species. By comparing the chromosomal location of homologous genes in different species, maps of conserved chromosomal segments can be obtained. These comparative maps can be used to predict gene locations in other species, identify candidate disease genes, characterize the genetic basis for complex traits, and find modulators of disease susceptibility. Equally important is the use of comparative maps for addressing questions about genome organization and evolution.

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