We compared the organization of satellite DNA (stDNA) and its chromosomal allocation in Mus domesticus and in Mus musculus. The two stDNAs show similar restriction fragment profiles after digestion (probed with M. domesticus stDNA) with some endonucleases of which restriction sequences are present in the 230-240 bp repetitive unit of the M. domesticus stDNA. In contrast, EcoRI digestion reveals that M. musculus stDNA lacks most of the GAATTC restriction sites, particularly at the level of the half-monomer. The chromosome distribution of stDNA (revealed by an M. domesticus stDNA probe) shows different patterns in the M. domesticus and M. musculus karyotypes, with about 60% of M. domesticus stDNA retained in the M. musculus genome. It is particularly noteworthy that the pericentromeric regions of M. musculus chromosomes 1 and X are totally devoid of M. domesticus stDNA sequences. In both groups, the differences in energy transfer between the stDNA-bound fluorochromes Hoechst 33258 and propidium iodide suggest that AT-rich repeated sequences have a much more clustered array in the M. domesticus stDNA, as if they are organized in tandem repeats longer than those of M. musculus. Considering the data as a whole, it seems likely that the evolutionary paths of the two stDNAs diverged after the generation of the ancestral 230-240 bp stDNA repetitive unit through the amplification, in the M. domesticus genome, of a family repeat which included the EcoRI GAATTC restriction sequence.
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