• Alcohol;
  • B6;
  • brain;
  • C57BL/6J;
  • C57BL/6NCrl;
  • consumption;
  • expression;
  • microarray;
  • preference;
  • substrain

C57BL/6 inbred mice have been widely used as research models; however, widespread demand has led to the creation of several B6 substrains with markedly different phenotypes. In this study, we report that two substrains of C57BL/6 mice, C57BL/6J (B6J) and C57BL/6NCrl (B6C), separated over 50 years ago at two different breeding facilities differ significantly in alcohol consumption and alcohol preference. The genomes of these two substrains are estimated to differ by only 1–2% of all gene loci, providing a unique opportunity to extract particular expression signatures between these substrains that are associated with quantifiable behavioral differences. Expression profiling of the cortex and striatum, hippocampus, cerebellum and the ventral brain region from alcohol-naïve B6C and B6J mice showed intervals on three chromosomes that are enriched in clusters of coregulated transcripts significantly divergent between the substrains. Additional analysis identified two genomic regions containing putative copy number differences between the substrains. One such region on chromosome 14 contained an estimated 3n copy number in the B6J genome compared with B6C. Within this interval, a gene of unknown function, D14Ertd449e, was found to be both associated with alcohol preference and vary in copy number across several inbred strain lineages. H2afz, Psen1, Wdfy1 and Clu were also identified as candidate genes that may be involved in influencing alcohol consumption.