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Detection of recombinant haplotypes in wild mice (Mus musculus) provides new insights into the origin of Japanese mice


Hitoshi Suzuki, Fax: +81-11-706-2279; E-mail:


Japanese house mice (Mus musculus molossinus) are thought to be a hybrid lineage derived from two prehistoric immigrants, the subspecies M. m. musculus of northern Eurasia and M. m. castaneus of South Asia. Mice of the western European subspecies M. m. domesticus have been detected in Japanese ports and airports only. We examined haplotype structuring of a 200 kb stretch on chromosome 8 for 59 mice from throughout Eurasia, determining short segments (≈ 370–600 bp) of eight nuclear genes (Fanca, Spire2, Tcf25, Mc1r, Tubb3, Def8, Afg3l1 and Dbndd1) which are intermittently arranged in this order. Where possible we identified the subspecies origin for individual gene alleles and then designated haplotypes for concatenated alleles. We recovered 11 haplotypes among 19 Japanese mice examined, identified either as ‘intact’ haplotypes derived from the subspecies musculus (57.9%), domesticus (7.9%), and castaneus (2.6%), or as ‘recombinant’ haplotypes (31.6%). We also detected recombinant haplotypes unique to Sakhalin. The complex nature of the recombinant haplotypes suggests ancient introduction of all three subspecies components into the peripheral part of Eurasia or complicated genomic admixture before the movement from source areas. ‘Intact’domesticus and castaneus haplotypes in other Japanese wild mice imply ongoing stowaway introductions. The method has general utility for assessing the history of genetic admixture and for disclosing ongoing genetic contamination.