, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 223-230

Fine scale mapping of a genetic locus for conditioned fear

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Abstract

Fear conditioning is one of a number of models for investigating the genetic basis of individual variation in emotion and learning. Genetic mapping using crosses between strains of laboratory mice has identified a locus on chromosome one that appears to influence not only variation in conditioned fear, but also in other validated tests of fear-related behaviour, (including the open-field and the elevated-plus maze), suggesting that the rodent locus may act in ways consistent with how a locus influencing susceptibility to anxiety in humans is believed to operate. Here we use high-resolution mapping in genetically heterogeneous mice to show that a quantitative trait locus influencing conditioned fear can be separated from loci influencing open-field activity. Mapping in two different heterogeneous stocks, the Boulder and Northport HS, gave similar map locations for open-field activity at two positions on the current mouse physical map, one at 162 Mb on chromosome one (negative log P-value 5.4) the other at 173 Mb (negative log P-value 4.8), while mapping of contextual conditioned fear in the Boulder HS identified a locus at 170 Mb (negative log P-value 5.4). Estimates of the 95% confidence intervals show that the locations do not overlap. The region containing a gene or genes that influence variation in conditioned fear is approximately 1 megabase in size and contains only one gene of known function, a pre-B cell leukaemia factor.