Congenic strains of mice for verification and genetic decomposition of quantitative trait loci for femoral bone mineral density.

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J Bone Miner Res 2003; 18:(2):175-185.




Peak femoral volumetric bone mineral density (femoral bone mineral density) in C57BL/6J (B6) 4-month-old female mice is 50% lower than in C3H/HeJ (C3H) and 34% lower than in CAST/EiJ (CAST) females. Genome-wide analyses of (B6 x C3H)F2 and (B6 x CAST)F2 4-month-old female progeny demonstrated that peak femoral bone mineral density is a complex quantitative trait associated with genetic loci (QTL) on numerous chromosomes (Chrs) and with trait heritabilities of 83% (C3H) and 57% (CAST). To test the effect of each QTL on femoral bone mineral density, two sets of loci (six each from C3H and CAST) were selected to make congenic strains by repeated backcrossing of donor mice carrying a given QTL-containing chromosomal region to recipient mice of the B6 progenitor strain. At the N6F1 generation, each B6.C3H and B6.CAST congenic strain (statistically 98% B6-like in genomic composition) was intercrossed to obtain N6F2 progeny for testing the effect of each QTL on femoral bone mineral density. In addition, the femoral bone mineral density QTL region on Chr 1 of C3H was selected for congenic subline development to facilitate fine mapping of this strong femoral bone mineral density locus. In 11 of 12 congenic strains, 6 B6.C3H and 5 B6.CAST, femoral bone mineral density in mice carrying c3h or cast alleles in the QTL regions was significantly different from that of littermates carrying b6 alleles. Differences also were observed in body weight, femoral length, and mid-diaphyseal periosteal circumference among these 11 congenic strains when compared with control littermates; however, these latter three phenotypes were not consistently correlated with femoral bone mineral density. Analyses of eight sublines derived from the B6.C3H-1T congenic region revealed two QTLs: one located between 36.9 and 49.7 centiMorgans (cM) and the other located between 73.2 and 100.0 cM distal to the centromere. In conclusion, these congenic strains provide proof of principle that many QTLs identified in the F2 analyses for femoral bone mineral density exert independent effects when transferred and expressed in a common genetic background. Furthermore, significant differences in femoral bone mineral density among the congenic strains were not consistently accompanied by changes in body weight, femur length, or periosteal circumference. Finally, decomposition of QTL regions by congenic sublines can reveal additional loci for phenotypes assigned to a QTL region and can markedly refine genomic locations of quantitative trait loci, providing the opportunity for candidate gene testing.

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