LINE-1 is the major family of long, interspersed, repetitive DNA sequences found in mammalian genomes. The mouse species Mus spretus contains large LINE-1 subfamilies that are distinguishable from the LINE-1 elements of laboratory Mus domesticus strains by their content of particular nucleotide differences. Oligonucleotides containing these differences act as M. spretus -specific LINE-1 hybridization probes. We have used these probes as a novel genetic tool in conjunction with an interspecific hybrid congenic mouse, in which the M. spretus allele of the pearl gene has been transferred onto a M. domesticus background. From a lambda library prepared from this congenic mouse, four clones were isolated by hybridization to the M. spretus-specific probes. After derivation of genetic markers from these clones, two of them were found to be linked to the pearl gene. These markers are the first two of up to 75 that could be isolated to support cloning the pearl gene. Considering the interspersed nature of LINE-1, we propose that species-specific LINE-1 probes could also be used to isolate markers for many other target genes.
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