Genetic modifier loci affecting survival and cardiac function in murine dilated cardiomyopathy.
BACKGROUND: Understanding the role for genetic factors in human heart failure is difficult because environmental factors cannot be standardized and genetic variation is great. One approach to identify genes that modify disease outcome is to use mouse models that show strong genetic variation of the disease phenotype. METHODS AND RESULTS: In this study, we used transgenic mice that develop severe dilated cardiomyopathy due to the cardiac-specific overexpression of calsequestrin. Transgenic mice showed marked strain-specific variation of cardiac function and survival, independent of transgene expression. A reciprocal backcross strategy was employed using two inbred strains showing distinct differences in survival and cardiac function. To map the genes that modified the heart failure phenotype, progeny from the 2 reciprocal backcrosses were used in a genome-wide scan for linkage. We identified two loci significantly linked to survival with a maximum likelihood ratio statistic of 36.2 (LOD score approximately 7.8) on chromosome 2 and of 26.5 (LOD score approximately 5.7) on chromosome 3. The chromosome 3 locus was also significantly linked to cardiac function with a maximum likelihood ratio statistic of 42.9 (LOD score approximately 9.3). Because only a single strong modifier locus was found in each backcross, we applied a haplotype analysis to map crossovers and successfully narrowed the critical intervals for each locus. CONCLUSION: Using a sensitized mouse model, we identified major modifier loci that affect the genetically complex disease of heart failure. This approach should allow the rapid identification of candidate genes involved in disease susceptibility in human populations and new insights into the pathogenesis of heart failure.
Suzuki, M; Carlson, KM; Marchuk, DA; Rockman, HA
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