Southern blot analysis with murine (Mu) interferon (IFN)-alpha cDNA of restricted genomic DNA of three inbred strains of mice belonging to the species Mus musculus domesticus (BALB/c, C57BL/6, and DBA/2) revealed only a limited degree of polymorphism. For example, with HindIII there were only two polymorphic bands out of 14 hybridizing fragments. With Mu IFN-beta cDNA there was no polymorphism at all between BALB/c and C57BL/6 in DNA restricted with seven different enzymes. In contrast, HindIII-restricted DNA of an inbred strain of wild mice (M. spretus Lataste) hybridized with the IFN-alpha probe displayed a high degree of polymorphism compared with the three strains of laboratory mice and was also polymorphic when probed with IFN-beta cDNA. Although M. musculus domesticus and M. spretus Lataste represent different species, certain interspecies crosses are possible in the laboratory. This enabled us to follow segregation of restriction fragment length polymorphism in HindIII-restricted DNA obtained from 18 backcross progeny of a (DBA/2 X M. spretus)F1 X DBA/2 interspecies cross. There was complete coincidence between the segregation of parental (DBA/2) and (DBA/2 X M. spretus)F1-type IFN-beta and IFN-alpha restriction fragment length polymorphism, indicating tight linkage of the IFN-beta and IFN-alpha genes. In addition, in 15 of 18 progeny the segregation coincided with that of the brown locus on chromosome 4, in accord with previous results obtained with the IFN-alpha probe in strains derived from crosses between BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice. Thus, the Mu IFN-beta gene is tightly linked to the Mu IFN-alpha gene cluster on chromosome 4 near the brown locus
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