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Behav Genet. 2001 Jan;31(1):61-77.

Genetic dissection of the olfactory bulbs of mice: QTLs on four chromosomes modulate bulb size.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis 38163, USA. rwilliam@nb.utmem.edu


Olfaction is influenced by a complex mix of environmental and genetic factors that modulate the production, migration, and maturation of cells in the olfactory bulbs. In this study we analyzed effects of sex, age, body weight, and brain weight on olfactory bulb size in sexually mature mice. We then used regression corrected values (residuals) to map quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that selectively modulate bulb weight. This biometric analysis has relied on an F2 intercross between C57BL/6J (B6) and DBA/2J (D2) inbred strains and a large sample of 35 BXD recombinant inbred (RI) strains. Bilateral bulb weight in adult mice ranges from 10 to 30 mg. Half of this remarkable variation can be predicted from differences in brain weight, sex, body weight, and age. A 100-mg difference in brain weight is associated with a 4.4-mg difference in bulb weight. Bulbs gain in weight by 0.2 mg/week--a 1% increase that continues until at least 300 days of age. Males tend to have slightly larger bulbs than females. By combining data from both related crosses (F2 and RI) we identified four QTLs with selective effects on bulb size (genomewide p < .05). Bulb4a is located on chromosome 4 (Chr 4) and Bulb6a is located on Chr 6. Alleles inherited from B6 at both of these loci increase bulb weight by 0.5-1.0 mg. Bulb11a is located on proximal Chr 11 and Bulb17a is located on the proximal part of Chr 17. In contrast to the first two QTLs, B6 alleles at these two loci decrease bulb weight by 0.5-1.0 mg. Collectively, the four loci account for 20% of the phenotypic variance in bulb weight.

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