The murine Ym1 gene belongs to a family of mammalian genes that are homologous to the chitinases from lower organisms, such as insects, nematodes, bacteria, and plants. All of these homologous mammalian proteins (except one member) have no demonstrable chitinase activity and therefore cannot be considered chitinases. The biological functions of these proteins remain unknown. However, these proteins may function through binding to carbohydrate polymers. In an effort to characterize the murine Ym1 gene better, we have delineated its genomic structure. We mapped the chromosomal location of the Ym1 gene to a central region of mouse chromosome 3 (in the region syntenic to human chromosome 1p13) and that of another murine chitinase-like gene, Brp39, to a central region of mouse chromosome 1 (in the region syntenic to human chromosome 1q31). In addition, we identified several genes highly homologous to Ym1 that cluster at the Ym1 locus. We show that these genes are expressed selectively in different mouse tissues.
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