We demonstrate that members of the olfactory receptor (OR) gene family are distributed on all but a few human chromosomes. Through FISH analysis, we show that OR sequences reside at more than 25 locations in the human genome. Their distribution is biased for terminal bands. Flow-sorted chromosomes were used to isolate 87 OR sequences derived from 16 chromosomes. Their sequence-relationships are indicative of the inter- and intrachromosomal duplications responsible for OR family expansion. The human genome has accumulated a striking number of dysfunctional copies: 72% of the sequences are pseudogenes. ORF-containing sequences predominate on chromosomes 7, 16 and 17.
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