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Nutr Neurosci. 2006 Feb-Apr;9(1-2):81-92.

Quantitative genetic analysis of brain copper and zinc in BXD recombinant inbred mice.

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Nutritional Neuroscience Program, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Copper and zinc are trace nutrients essential for normal brain function, yet an excess of these elements can be toxic. It is important therefore that these metals be closely regulated. We recently conducted a quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis to identify chromosomal regions in the mouse containing possible regulatory genes. The animals came from 15 strains of the BXD/Ty recombinant inbred (RI) strain panel and the brain regions analyzed were frontal cortex, caudate-putamen, nucleus accumbens and ventral midbrain. Several QTL were identified for copper and/or zinc, most notably on chromosomes 1, 8, 16 and 17. Genetic correlational analysis also revealed associations between these metals and dopamine, cocaine responses, saccharine preference, immune response and seizure susceptibility. Notably, the QTL on chromosome 17 is also associated with seizure susceptibility and contains the histocompatibility H2 complex. This work shows that regulation of zinc and copper is under polygenic influence and is intimately related to CNS function. Future work will reveal genes underlying the QTL and how they interact with other genes and the environment. More importantly, revelation of the genetic underpinnings of copper and zinc brain homeostasis will aid our understanding of neurological diseases that are related to copper and zinc imbalance.

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