Tandem array of human visual pigment genes at Xq28

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Science  17 Jun 1988:
Vol. 240, Issue 4859, pp. 1669-1672
DOI: 10.1126/science.2837827


Unequal crossing-over within a head-to-tail tandem array of the homologous red and green visual pigment genes has been proposed to explain the observed variation in green-pigment gene number among individuals and the prevalence of red-green fusion genes among color-blind subjects. This model was tested by probing the structure of the red and green pigment loci with long-range physical mapping techniques. The loci were found to constitute a gene array with an approximately 39-kilobase repeat length. The position of the red pigment gene at the 5' edge of the array explains its lack of variation in copy number. Restriction maps of the array in four individuals who differ in gene number are consistent with a head-to-tail configuration of the genes. These results provide physical evidence in support of the model and help to explain the high incidence of color blindness in the human population.