, Volume 15, Issue 12, pp 975-981

Genomic organization and analysis of the hairless gene in four hypotrichotic rat strains

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More than 25 different hypotrichotic mutations have been described in laboratory rats, yet the molecular basis for these mutations has not been determined for most of these phenotypes. Their similarity to the hairless (hr) mutations described in mice suggests a possible role for the hairless gene in the formation of rat hypotrichotic phenotypes, though whether hr is responsible for these rat phenotypes has yet to be determined. Therefore, in order to understand the basis for the rat hypotrichotic phenotypes and their relationship to the hr gene, we determined the genomic organization of the hr gene and subsequently analyzed the coding sequence in four hypotrichotic rat strains. Analysis revealed that the first two exons of the mouse, monkey, and human hr gene were fused in the rat gene, while the rest of the gene showed strong evolutionary conservation. Despite their designation as “hairless,” no mutations within the coding sequences were identified, indicating that the “hairless” phenotype in all four hypotrichotic rat strains are not allelic with hr.