The genetics underlying variation in health-related musculoskeletal phenotypes can be investigated in a mouse model. Quantitative trait loci (QTLs) affecting musculoskeletal traits in the LG/J and SM/J strain lineage remain to be refined and corroborated. The aim of this study was to map muscle and bone traits in males (n = 506) of the 50th filial generation of advanced intercross lines (LG/SM AIL) derived from the two strains. Genetic contribution to variation in all musculoskeletal traits was confirmed; the SNP heritability of muscle mass ranged between 0.46 and 0.56; and the SNP heritability of tibia length was 0.40. We used two analytical software, GEMMA and QTLRel, to map the underlying QTLs. GEMMA required substantially less computation and recovered all the QTLs identified by QTLRel. Seven significant QTLs were identified for muscle weight (Chr 1, 7, 11, 12, 13, 15, and 16), and two for tibia length, (Chr 1 and 13). Each QTL explained 4–5% of phenotypic variation. One muscle and both bone loci replicated previous findings; the remaining six were novel. Positional candidates for the replicated QTLs were prioritized based on in silico analyses and gene expression in muscle tissue. In summary, we replicated existing QTLs and identified novel QTLs affecting muscle weight, and replicated bone length QTLs in LG/SM AIL males. Heritability estimates substantially exceed the cumulative effect of the QTLs, hence a richer genetic architecture contributing to muscle and bone variability could be uncovered with a larger sample size.
Bibliographical noteAR056280 awarded to DAB and AL. AIHC supported by IMS and Elphinstone Scholarship from the University of Aberdeen. GRV supported by Medical Research Scotland (Vac-929-2016).
- gene expression
- skeletal muscle