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Detection of modifier loci influencing the lung phenotype of cystic fibrosis knockout mice

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The variable severity of lung disease associated with cystic fibrosis (CF) cannot be explained by the genotype of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) locus alone. Lung disease has been reported in a congenic CF mouse model of C57BL/6J genetic background (B6 CF), in the absence of detectable infection, but not in CF mice of mixed genetic background, nor in wild-type animals maintained in identical environments. In this report, studies are presented to show that the same CF mutation in mice of a BALB/c background (BALB CF) results in minimal lung disease. By 12 weeks of age B6 CF mice developed a lung disease consisting of mononuclear cell interstitial infiltrate and fibrosis, and BALB CF or littermate control mice developed minimal histopathology. Therefore, it is possible to identify the chromosomal locations of genes that can contribute to the susceptibility to lung disease in B6 CF mice compared with BALB CF mice by means of a quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping strategy based on the variable histology of the (B6 × BALB) F2 CF mice. Significant linkage of the fibrotic lung phenotype was detected for a region on Chromosome (Chr) 6, defined by markers D6Mit194 to D6Mit201, and suggestive linkage was found for regions on Chr 1, 2, 10, and 17. Additional loci, suggestive of linkage, were also detected for the interstitial thickening phenotype. Most of these putative loci are specific to the sex of the animals. These results suggest that multiple genes can influence the severity of CF lung disease in mice.

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Haston, C., McKerlie, C., Newbigging, S. et al. Detection of modifier loci influencing the lung phenotype of cystic fibrosis knockout mice . Mamm Genome 13, 605–613 (2002).

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