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Mamm Genome. 2007 Jul;18(6-7):482-91. Epub 2007 Jul 7.

Quantitative traits for the tail suspension test: automation, optimization, and BXD RI mapping.

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  • 1Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre (PO82), Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, SE5 8AF, United Kingdom.


Immobility in the tail suspension test (TST) is considered a model of despair in a stressful situation, and acute treatment with antidepressants reduces immobility. Inbred strains of mouse exhibit widely differing baseline levels of immobility in the TST and several quantitative trait loci (QTLs) have been nominated. The labor of manual scoring and various scoring criteria make obtaining robust data and comparisons across different laboratories problematic. Several studies have validated strain gauge and video analysis methods by comparison with manual scoring. We set out to find objective criteria for automated scoring parameters that maximize the biological information obtained, using a video tracking system on tapes of tail suspension tests of 24 lines of the BXD recombinant inbred panel and the progenitor strains C57BL/6J and DBA/2J. The maximum genetic effect size is captured using the highest time resolution and a low mobility threshold. Dissecting the trait further by comparing genetic association of multiple measures reveals good evidence for loci involved in immobility on chromosomes 4 and 15. These are best seen when using a high threshold for immobility, despite the overall better heritability at the lower threshold. A second trial of the test has greater duration of immobility and a completely different genetic profile. Frequency of mobility is also an independent phenotype, with a distal chromosome 1 locus.

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