Variation in Galr1 expression determines susceptibility to excitotoxin-induced cell death in mice


*P. E. Schauwecker, Department of Cell and Neurobiology, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, 1333 San Pablo Street, BMT 403, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9112, USA. E-mail:


Inbred strains of mice differ in their susceptibility to excitotoxin-induced cell death, but the genetic basis of individual variation in differential susceptibility is unknown. Previously, we identified a highly significant quantitative trait locus (QTL) on chromosome 18 that influenced susceptibility to kainic acid-induced cell death (Sicd1). Comparison of susceptibility to seizure-induced cell death between reciprocal congenic lines for Sicd1 and parental background mice indicates that genes influencing this trait were captured in both strains. Two positional gene candidates, Galr1 and Mbp, map to 55 cM, where the Sicd1 QTL had been previously mapped. Thus, this study was undertaken to determine if Galr1 and/or Mbp could be considered as candidate genes. Genomic sequence comparison of these two functional candidate genes from the C57BL/6J (resistant at Sicd1) and the FVB/NJ (susceptible at Sicd1) strains showed no single-nucleotide polymorphisms. However, expression studies confirmed that Galr1 shows significant differential expression in the congenic and parental inbred strains. Galr1 expression was downregulated in the hippocampus of C57BL/6J mice and FVB.B6-Sicd1 congenic mice when compared with FVB/NJ or B6.FVB-Sicd1 congenic mice. A survey of Galr1 expression among other inbred strains showed a significant effect such that ‘susceptible’ strains showed a reduction in Galr1 expression as compared with ‘resistant’ strains. In contrast, no differences in Mbp expression were observed. In summary, these results suggest that differential expression of Galr1 may contribute to the differences in susceptibility to seizure-induced cell death between cell death-resistant and cell death-susceptible strains.