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Bone. 2004 Nov;35(5):1086-94.

Mapping quantitative trait loci that influence blood levels of alkaline phosphatase in MRL/MpJ and SJL/J mice.

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  • 1Musculoskeletal Disease Center, JLP VA Medical Center, Loma Linda, CA, 92357, USA.


To examine the hypothesis that serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) levels have a heritable component, we analyzed blood from two inbred strains of mice, MRL/MpJ and SJL, which exhibit 90% difference in total serum ALP activity (268+/-26 vs. 140+/-15 U/l, respectively, P<0.001). A genome-wide scan was carried out using 137 polymorphic markers in 518 F2 female mice. Serum ALP activity in the F2 progeny showed a normal distribution with an estimated heritability of 56%. Genome-wide scan for cosegregation of genetic marker data with serum ALP activity revealed three major quantitative trait loci (QTL), one each on chromosomes 2 (LOD score 3.8), chromosome 6 (LOD score 12.0), and chromosome 14 (LOD score 3.7). In addition, there was one suggestive QTL on chromosome 2 (LOD score of 3.3). In aggregate, these QTLs explain 22.5% of variance in serum ALP between these two strains. Serum ALP showed a moderate but significant correlation with body weight adjusted total body bone mineral density (r=0.12, P=0.0108) and periosteal circumference at midshaft tibia (r=0.15, P=0.0006) in F2 mice. The chromosome 6 locus harboring the major serum ALP QTL also contains a major BMD and bone size QTL, identified earlier, between these two strains of mice; in addition, this QTL is also close to the locus that regulates IGF-I levels (LOD score 8-9) in C3HB6 F2 mice. These common QTLs indicate that the observed difference in ALP and BMD or bone size may be regulated by same loci (or genes). Accordingly, the osteoblast cells isolated from femur and tibia of MRL mice showed a significantly higher number of ALP +ve cells/colony and two- to threefold higher ALP activity (P<0.001) as compared to the cells isolated from SJL mice, thus suggesting that differences in serum ALP between MRL and SJL reflect difference in ALP expression from osteoblasts from these strains of mice. These data suggest that serum ALP levels are genetically determined and correlate with cellular mechanisms that differentiate BMD accrual in these two strains of mice. The findings that ALP and BMD traits share the same loci on chromosome 6 suggest a role for genetic determinants of bone formation in overall BMD accretion.

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