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Chem Senses. 2008 Oct;33(8):693-707. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjn025. Epub 2008 Jul 24.

Genetic analysis of tongue size and taste papillae number and size in recombinant inbred strains of mice.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, College of Medicine, 855 Monroe Avenue, Memphis, TN 38163, USA.


Quantitative trait loci (QTLs) analysis has been used to examine natural variation of phenotypes in the mouse somatosensory cortex, hippocampus, cerebellum, and amygdala. QTL analysis has also been utilized to map and identify genes underlying anatomical features such as muscle, organ, and body weights. However, this methodology has not been previously applied to identification of anatomical structures related to gustatory phenotypes. In this study, we used QTL analysis to map and characterize genes underlying tongue size, papillae number, and papillae area. In a set of 43 BXD recombinant inbred (RI) mice (n = 111) and 2 parental strains (C57BL/6J and DBA/2J; n = 7), we measured tongue length, width, and weight. In a subset of 23 BXD RI mice and the parental mice, we measured filiform and fungiform papillae number and fungiform papillae area. Using QTL linkage analysis (through WebQTL), we detected 2 significant and noninteracting QTLs influencing tongue length on chromosomes 5 and 7. We also found a significant QTL on chromosome 19 underlying fungiform papillae area and a suggestive QTL on chromosome 2 linked to fungiform papillae number. From these QTLs, we identified a number of candidate genes within the QTL intervals that include SRY-box containing gene, nebulin-related anchoring protein, and actin-binding LIM protein 1. This study is an important first step in identifying genetic factors underlying tongue size, papillae size, and papillae number using QTL analysis.

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