Mouse chromosomes, with the exception of the Y chromosome, are telocentric. The telomere at the p-arm is separated from the centromere by the tL1 sequence and TLC tandem repeats. A previous report showed that the TLC array was also conserved in other strains of the subgenus Mus. These results suggest that the TLC arrays promote the stable evolutionary maintenance of a telocentric karyotype in the subgenus Mus. In this study, we investigated the degree of conservation of TLC arrays among a variety of wild-derived inbred strains, all of which are descendants of wild mice captured in several areas of the world. Genomic PCR analysis indicates that the sequential order of telomere-tL1 is highly conserved in all strains, whereas tL1-TLC is not. Next, Southern blot analysis of DNAs isolated from a panel of mouse subspecies showed both Mus musculus domesticus and Mus musculus castaneus subspecies possess TLC arrays. Unexpectedly, this repeat appears to be lost in almost all Mus musculus musculus and Mus musculus molossinus subspecies, which show a clear geographic divide. These results indicate that either other unknown sequences were replaced by the TLC repeat or almost all M. m. musculus and M. m. molossinus subspecies do not have any sequence between the telomere and minor satellites. Our observation suggests that the TLC array might be evolutionarily unstable and not essential for murine chromosomal conformation. This is the first example of the subspecies-specific large genome alterations in mice.
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