Structure and expression of the mouse casein gene locus.
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The analysis of yeast artificial chromosomes (YACs) containing the complete mouse casein gene locus revealed the presence of five casein genes, alpha-, beta-, gamma-, delta-, and kappa-casein, in this order, in the locus. The alpha- and beta-casein genes are only 10 kb apart and have convergent transcriptional orientations. The distance between the beta-casein gene and the alpha s2-like gamma-casein gene is about 70 kb, and these genes have divergent transcriptional orientations. The gamma- and delta-casein genes, both encoding a alpha s2-like casein, are linked within 60 kb and convergently transcribed. The kappa-casein gene is located about 100 kb from the delta-gene. Except for the presence of the delta-casein gene, the organization of the mouse casein locus resembles that of the bovine locus, including the transcriptional orientation of the genes. In contrast to the other casein genes, which are strongly induced at mid-lactation, expression of the delta-casein gene is abruptly induced upon parturition. Comparative analysis of alpha s2-like sequences from various species suggests that the ancestral alpha s2-like gene duplicated around the time of radiation of the rodent and artiodactylid ancestors.