Multiple quantitative trait loci for cortical and trabecular bone regulation map to mid-distal mouse chromosome 4 that shares linkage homology to human chromosome 1p36



The mid-distal region of mouse chromosome 4 (Chr 4) is homologous with human Chr 1p36. Previously, we reported that mouse Chr 4 carries a quantitative trait locus (QTL) with strong regulatory effect on volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD). The intent of this study is to utilize nested congenic strains to decompose the genetic complexity of this gene-rich region. Adult females and males from 18 nested congenic strains carrying discrete C3H sequences were phenotyped for femoral mineral and volume by pQCT and for trabecular bone volume (BV), tissue volume (TV), trabecular number (, and trabecular thickness (Trab.thk) by MicroCT 40. Our data show that the mouse Chr 4 region consists of at least 10 regulatory QTL regions that affected either or both pQCT and MicroCT 40 phenotypes. The pQCT phenotypes were typically similar between sexes, whereas the MicroCT 40 phenotypes were divergent. Individual congenic strains contained one to seven QTL regions. These regions conferred large positive or negative effects in some congenic strains, depending on the particular bone phenotype. The QTL regions II to X are syntenic with human 1p36, containing from 1 to 102 known genes. We identified 13 candidate genes that can be linked to bone within these regions. Six of these genes were linked to osteoblasts, three linked to osteoclasts, and two linked to skeletal development. Three of these genes have been identified in Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) linked to 1p36. In region III, there is only one gene, Lck, which conferred negative pQCT and MicroCT 40 phenotypes in both sexes. This gene is important to development and functioning of T cells, has been associated with osteoclast activity, and represents a novel bone regulatory gene that merits further experimental evaluation. In summary, congenic strains are powerful tools for identifying regulatory regions that influence bone biology and offer models for testing hypotheses about gene-gene and gene-environment interactions that are not available to experimental work in humans. © 2012 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research