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Mamm Genome. 2007 Apr;18(4):240-5. Epub 2007 May 31.

Fine mapping dissects pleiotropic growth quantitative trait locus into linked loci.

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Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada.


A recurring issue in studies of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) is whether QTLs that appear to have pleiotropic effects are indeed caused by pleiotropy at single loci or by linked QTLs. Previous work identified a QTL that affected tail length in mice and the lengths of various bones, including the humerus, ulna, femur, tibia, and mandible. The effect of this QTL on tail length has since been found to be due to multiple linked QTLs and so its apparently pleiotropic effects may have been due to linked QTLs with distinct effects. In the present study we examined a line of mice segregating only for a 0.94-Mb chromosomal region known to contain a subset of the QTLs influencing tail length. We measured a number of skeletal dimensions, including the lengths of the skull, mandible, humerus, ulna, femur, tibia, calcaneus, metatarsus, and a tail bone. The QTL region was found to have effects on the size of the mandible and length of the tail bone, with little or no effect on the other traits. Using a randomization approach, we rejected the null hypothesis that the QTL affected all traits equally, thereby demonstrating that the pleiotropic effects reported earlier were due to linked loci with distinct effects. This result underlines the possibility that seemingly pleiotropic effects of QTLs may frequently be due to linked loci and that high-resolution mapping will often be required to distinguish between pleiotropy and linkage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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