The natural killer gene complex (NKC) on chromosome 6 contains clusters of genes that encode both activation and inhibitory receptors expressed on mouse natural killer (NK) cells. NKC genes, particularly belonging to the Nkrp1 and Ly49 gene families, display haplotype differences between different mouse strains and allelic polymorphisms of individual genes, as previously revealed by conventional analysis in a small number of inbred mouse strains. Herein we used array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) to efficiently compare the NKC in 21 mouse strains to the reference C57BL/6 strain. By using unsupervised clustering methods, we could sort these variations into the same groups as determined by previous RFLP analyses of Nkrp1 and Ly49 genes. Prospective analyses of aCGH and RFLP data validated these relationships. Moreover, aCGH data predicted monoclonal antibody reactivity with an allospecific determinant on molecules expressed by NK cells. Taken together, these data demonstrate the structural variation in the NKC between mouse strains as well as the usefulness of aCGH in analysis of complex, polymorphic gene clusters.
- array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH)
- natural killer (NK) cells
- natural killer gene complex (NKC)