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Open Access Research article

Development of genomic resources for the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster): construction of a BAC library and vole-mouse comparative cytogenetic map

Lisa A McGraw1, Jamie K Davis2, Josh J Lowman2, Boudewijn FH ten Hallers3, Maxim Koriabine3, Larry J Young14, Pieter J de Jong3, M Katharine Rudd2 and James W Thomas2*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA

2 Department of Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA

3 Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, CA, USA

4 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:70  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-70

Published: 28 January 2010

Abstract

Background

The prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) is a premier animal model for understanding the genetic and neurological basis of social behaviors. Unlike other biomedical models, prairie voles display a rich repertoire of social behaviors including the formation of long-term pair bonds and biparental care. However, due to a lack of genomic resources for this species, studies have been limited to a handful of candidate genes. To provide a substrate for future development of genomic resources for this unique model organism, we report the construction and characterization of a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library from a single male prairie vole and a prairie vole-mouse (Mus musculus) comparative cytogenetic map.

Results

We constructed a prairie vole BAC library (CHORI-232) consisting of 194,267 recombinant clones with an average insert size of 139 kb. Hybridization-based screening of the gridded library at 19 loci established that the library has an average depth of coverage of ~10×. To obtain a small-scale sampling of the prairie vole genome, we generated 3884 BAC end-sequences totaling ~2.8 Mb. One-third of these BAC-end sequences could be mapped to unique locations in the mouse genome, thereby anchoring 1003 prairie vole BAC clones to an orthologous position in the mouse genome. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) mapping of 62 prairie vole clones with BAC-end sequences mapping to orthologous positions in the mouse genome was used to develop a first-generation genome-wide prairie vole-mouse comparative cytogenetic map. While conserved synteny was observed between this pair of rodent genomes, rearrangements between the prairie vole and mouse genomes were detected, including a minimum of five inversions and 16 inter-chromosomal rearrangements.

Conclusions

The construction of the prairie vole BAC library and the vole-mouse comparative cytogenetic map represent the first genome-wide modern genomic resources developed for this species. The BAC library will support future genomic, genetic and molecular characterization of this genome and species, and the isolation of clones of high interest to the vole research community will allow for immediate characterization of the regulatory and coding sequences of genes known to play important roles in social behaviors. In addition, these resources provide an excellent platform for future higher resolution cytogenetic mapping and full genome sequencing.