The zinc finger gene GLI3 has been shown to be involved in the embryonal development of the limbs and skull. Mutations in GLI3 lead to the development of the human Greig cephalopolysyndactyly syndrome (GCPS) and the mouse mutations extra toes (Xt) and anterior digit deformity (add). The GCPS locus on human chromosome 7p13 has recently been isolated in a yeast artificial chromosome (YAC) contig. Here, we describe the establishment of a cosmid contig that was derived from two of the YAC clones, that spans 550 kb of human DNA, and that includes the GLI3 gene. In this contig, three GCPS translocation breakpoints have been mapped to distinct EcoRI fragments in the 3' half of the gene. In addition, exon-carrying fragments have been identified and the size of the GLI3 gene could be determined as at least 280 kb. The gene is flanked by a CpG island that lies on the 5' side and that is in close proximity to the first exon detected by the cloned GLI3 cDNA. Further upstream, five segments were found that have been conserved between man and mouse. In the mouse, this region has been characterized as the transgene integration site resulting in the add phenotype. Both the CpG island and the conserved regions are probable candidates for a search for GLI3 promoter and control elements.

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