Abstract

Identifying the genes and gene products relevant to physiological systems and creating opportunities to elucidate their function are essential first steps in understanding the pathophysiology of disease. To dissect the genetic variation underlying hematopoietic, cardiovascular, lung, and sleep dysfunction, we established a Center for Mouse Models of Heart, Lung, Blood and Sleep (HLBS) Disorders at The Jackson Laboratory as part of the NHLBI Program for Genomic Applications (PGA). The major goal of the JAX PGA is to enable researchers to link both single-gene mutations and quantitative trait loci (QTL) to gene function and disease. To achieve this goal, we are generating new mutations in mice by chemical (ENU) mutagenesis, and characterizing the common inbred mouse strains to detect existing genetic variation. Here, we report an extensive body of hematologically relevant strain characterization data and the establishment of new animal models. All strain characterization data is deposited into the Mouse Phenome Database (MPD, http://www.jax.org/phenome), also accessible via the JAX PGA website (http://pga.jax.org). Data for up to 48 inbred strains are currently available and include complete blood counts and coagulation profiles (PT, aPTT, fibrinogen). These data allow investigators to identify the most appropriate strains for (a) physiological testing; (b) drug development; (c) progenitors in QTL crosses; (d) sensitized mutagenesis screens; and (e) direct hypothesis testing. For example, to maximize the potential for successful QTL identification, parental strains that differ substantially in the phenotype of interest, at least 2 standard deviations (SD), should be selected. We used our strain survey data to select parental strains for identification of QTL for baseline WBC count, an important risk factor for sickle cell disease severity. The strains C57BLKS/J and SM/J have WBC counts of 12.6 ± 1.6 and 3.3 ± 0.8 x 103/μL, respectively, a difference much greater the 2 SD, indicating a high statistical power. We identified a highly significant QTL (LOD = 7) on chromosome 1 in an initial genome wide scan of 279 F2 animals. Moreover, the availability of extensive phenotypic data across the inbred strains in conjunction with the availability of saturated sslp and SNP maps has allowed us to identify QTL in silico. As an example of the utility of the MPD in hypothesis testing, a modifier gene associated with decreased VWF levels is present in 5 of the 6 MPD strains showing the highest aPTT levels (see abstract by Johnsen et al). In total, 44 different phenotypic projects, each consisting of large datasets, can be freely accessed through the MPD. The JAX PGA mutagenesis effort in C57BL/6J mice has likewise yielded valuable resources. Nearly 100 new mutant strains are in various stages of development, including strains with phenotypes of interest to the hematology community (e. g., anemia, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia, leukocytosis). These animal models and all other JAX PGA resources (protocols, software, QTL locations) are freely available to the scientific community.

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