Molecular characterization of the Pb recombination hotspot in the mouse major histocompatibility complex class II region.
In the mouse major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II region, meiotic recombination breakpoints are clustered in four specific sites known as hotspots. Here we reveal the primary structure of a hotspot near the Pb gene. A total of 12 crossover points were found to be confined to a 15-kb DNA segment of the Pb pseudogene. Moreover, the crossover points are concentrated in a 341-bp segment, which includes a part of exon 4 and intron 4 of the Pb gene. All four MHC hotspots appear to be located within genes or at the 3' end of genes, contrasting with characterized hotspots in budding yeast, which are mostly located at the 5'-promoter regions of genes. The Pb hotspot has several consensus motifs, an octamer transcription factor-binding sequence, the B-motif-like transcription factor-binding sequence, and tandem repeats of tetramer sequence-all of which are shared by the other three hotspots. Systematic analysis of the public database demonstrated that the full motif set occurs rarely in the nucleotide sequence of the entire MHC class II region. All results suggest that the motif set has an indispensable role in determining their site specificity.