Using paired-end sequences from bacterial artificial chromosomes, we have constructed high-resolution synteny and rearrangement breakpoint maps among human, mouse, and rat genomes. Among the >300 syntenic blocks identified are segments of over 40 Mb without any detected interspecies rearrangements, as well as regions with frequently broken synteny and extensive rearrangements. As closely related species, mouse and rat share the majority of the breakpoints and often have the same types of rearrangements when compared with the human genome. However, the breakpoints not shared between them indicate that mouse rearrangements are more often interchromosomal, whereas intrachromosomal rearrangements are more prominent in rat. Centromeres may have played a significant role in reorganizing a number of chromosomes in all three species. The comparison of the three species indicates that genome rearrangements follow a path that accommodates a delicate balance between maintaining a basic structure underlying all mammalian species and permitting variations that are necessary for speciation.
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