Type II collagen is the major extracellular matrix component of cartilage and correct expression of the α1(II) collagen gene is important for vertebrate skeletal development. In order to provide the basis for studying the control of type II collagen gene expression in embryogenesis and in mouse models of human connective tissue disease, the complete mouse Col2-a1 gene has been isolated in a single cosmid clone, cosMcol.2, and partially characterized. The gene is approximately 30 kb and is highly conserved in exon/intron structure and nucleotide and amino acid sequence (>80% homology) when compared with the human, rat, bovine and chicken equivalents. A high degree of conservation was also found in the 5′ flanking region of the rat, human and mouse α1(II) collagen genes, including the presence of several G+C and C+T rich, direct repeat motifs. The sites of transcription start, termination codon and polyadenylation have also been identified. Unlike chicken, bovine and human, where polyA attachment is at a single site, for the mouse Col2a-1 gene two polyadenylation sites are utilized. Col2a-1 has also been localized by interspecies backcross analysis to the central portion of mouse Chromosome (Chr) 15, approximately 8 centiMorgans (cM) proximal of Int-1 and 18 cM distal of Myc. Col2a-1 is therefore included in a linkage group which is conserved on human Chr 12q.
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