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Eur J Hum Genet. 2006 Jun;14(6):721-8.

The genetic basis of emotional behaviour in mice.

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  • 1Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Roosevelt Drive, Headington, Oxford, UK.


The last decade has witnessed a steady expansion in the number of quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapped for complex phenotypes. However, despite this proliferation, the number of successfully cloned QTL has remained surprisingly low, and to a great extent limited to large effect loci. In this review, we follow the progress of one complex trait locus; a low magnitude moderator of murine emotionality identified some 10 years ago in a simple two-strain intercross, and successively resolved using a variety of crosses and fear-related phenotypes. These experiments have revealed a complex underlying genetic architecture, whereby genetic effects fractionate into several separable QTL with some evidence of phenotype specificity. Ultimately, we describe a method of assessing gene candidacy, and show that given sufficient access to genetic diversity and recombination, progression from QTL to gene can be achieved even for low magnitude genetic effects.

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