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Chromosomal Organization

Keith Robison robison at lipid.harvard.edu
Mon Dec 5 23:27:46 EST 1994

hirshaut at yu1.yu.edu wrote:

: There is a great deal of effort to locate and characterize genes which 
: are related to specific functions or diseases.  To support this process, 
: mapping of chromosomes appears to be making rapid progress.  What, 
: however, is known about chromosome organization?  It would seem logical 
: that genes with related functions share a single chromosome.  Is there, 
: in fact, any information so far that confirms this assumption?  If so, 
: any leads to which are the best studied chromosomes and who is working 
: most actively in this area.  hirshaut at yu1.yu.edu.  Thanks. 

There do exist clusters of genes with related function -- many components
of the immune system are clustered in the Major Histocompatibility Complex.
However, the trend seems to be that genes with related function are only
clustered if they are directly related by duplication.  For example,
the HOX genes occur in nice little clusters whose structure is largely
conserved between flies and man.  But the HOX genes are all related to
each other by duplication.  

In prokaryotes related genes are clustered into operons.  Last year
there was the identification of an operon in C.elegans, and a recent Nature
paper identified many more operons in C.elegans.  However, C.elegans
appears to be very odd in this way amongst the eukaryotes.

Try searching Medline or Current Contents with "operon and elegans"
or "histocompatibility and organization".  You might also look in
Stephen O'Brien's papers on genome segments conserved between different
vertebrates -- there might be info there on clustering.

Keith Robison
Harvard University
Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology
Department of Genetics / HHMI

robison at mito.harvard.edu 

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