Murine inter-strain polymorphisms alter gene targeting frequencies at the mu opioid receptor locus in embryonic stem cells
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Chromosomal regions near the mu opioid receptor gene are implicated in morphine preference by quantitative trait loci studies. Differences in expression of the mu opioid receptor are expected to contribute to differences in inter-individual (humans) or strain-specific (mice) responses to painful stimuli, opiate drugs, and addictive behaviors. The search for relevant genetic elements is hindered by a lack of inter-strain (or inter-individual) genomic sequence information. This work describes 9.3 kb of DNA sequence surrounding exons 2 and 3 of the murine mu opioid receptor gene from both 129/Sv and C57BL/6 strains. While the exons are perfectly conserved, intronic sequences demonstrate approximately a 2.5% divergence between the strains. Polymorphism within these intronic regions may effect either primary transcript stability or C-terminal splicing. Homologous recombination frequencies of targeting vectors harboring mu opioid receptor gene sequences have also been compared in embryonic stem cells derived from these strains. Non-isogenic targeting reduces homologous recombination in both 129/Sv and C57BL/6 embryonic stem cells by greater than 15-fold. These findings are the first to examine C57BL/6 embryonic stem cells for non-isogenic targeting frequencies and to define polymorphisms that exist between these mouse strains which might contribute to opioid behaviors.
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