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Sequencing and genomic annotation of the chicken (Gallus gallus) Hox clusters, and mapping of evolutionarily conserved regions

Richardson M.K.a · Crooijmans R.P.M.A.b · Groenen M.A.M.b
aDepartment of Integrative Zoology, Institute of Biology, Leiden University, Leiden and bAnimal Breeding and Genetics Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen (The Netherlands) Cytogenet Genome Res 117:110–119 (2007) (DOI:10.1159/000103171)


Hox genes encode transcription factors that are involved in the regulation of normal development and are mutated in some diseases and malformations. Chicken HOX genes have been extensively studied in the chick limb and other developmental models. To date while the chicken HOXA cluster has been completely sequenced many other chicken HOX genes are known only from partial mRNAs or unfinished genome assemblies. Furthermore, although a finished sequence of the HOXA cluster is available, the sequence has not yet been annotated. We have therefore manually annotated the available HOX sequences and improved the sequences by sequencing PCR fragments that bridge existing gaps in the genome sequences. These sequences complement the published sequences, including the currently incomplete WashUC Gallus_gallus-2.1 build, to give an improved coverage of the cluster. We used phylogenetic footprinting to map the genomic location of 398 Ultra Conserved Regions in the HOX complex 248 of which do not overlap with any known annotated coding exon. These included the hox-related microRNAs miR-10 and miR-196. The chicken HOX clusters appear to be broadly comparable to their human counterparts. A few human orthologues were not recovered from the chicken, presumably because of incomplete sequence.


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