A method of restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis was used to estimate the amount of genetic divergence between the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) strain and the Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) strain. DNA from each strain was digested with eight restriction endonucleases and hybridized with six single copy gene sequences. The number of hybridization bands in each digestion was used to estimate the total number of bases analyzed and RFLPs were scored as single mutations. Divergence was then estimated by dividing the number of mutations by the number of bases analyzed. In a total of 808 bases analyzed in WKY rats, a minimum of 13 mutations were scored in SHR, which yields a nucleotide divergence of 1 change per 62 bp. This is an extremely high amount of divergence given the known origin of these two strains and is comparable to the maximum divergence possible between unrelated humans.
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