Physical linkage of genes whose products are involved in similar physiological pathways may have functional significance. The identification of conserved gene linkage in distantly related organisms can therefore strengthen the hypothesis of selection acting towards keeping genes on a chromosome. We used the cDNA selection technique the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with generic primers for the identification of new genes on the genomic clones bearing the major histocompatibility complex (Mhc) class I genes of the zebrafish (Danio rerio). We found six new genes (BING1, DAXX, TAPBP, KNSL2, TAP2B and KE6) whose orthologues are known to be linked to the Mhc class II region in humans and mice. In addition a new zebrafish Mhc class I gene termed Dare-UFA was detected. By contrast, a search for the human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-linked BING3, KE3 and SACM2L genes revealed that these loci are not located on the class I clones of the zebrafish. The zebrafish class I region contains repetitive elements with similarity to the DANA, SATA and LINE repeats, as well as TcI transposable elements. Our findings indicate a high degree of linkage conservation between the zebrafish class I the mammalian class II regions.
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