Mice homozygous for the tw5 allele arrest at gastrulation from defects associated with embryonic ectoderm development. The mutated gene has been genetically closely linked to the H-2K locus in the mouse MHC region, flanked by markers H-2Pb and D17Mit147. Aiming at the positional cloning of the mutated gene, we constructed a BAC contig spanning about 1 Mb of the genomic region. On the basis of our mapping and sequencing analysis of the BACs combined with public genome data, EST database searches, and gene prediction programs, we delimit the 1.06 cM of the tw5 critical region to 750 kb, and infer 36 genes (1/20 kb) encoded in the interval. All of the 33 genes tested were confirmed as expressed in embryonic tissues by RT-PCR analyses, and in many cases by EST expression profiles as well. Thus, this highly gene-rich region is essentially totally transcribed during early development and provides priority candidates to be screened for the tw5 embryonic lesion.
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