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Physiol Genomics. 2011 Jan 7;43(1):24-31. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00172.2010. Epub 2010 Oct 19.

Distinct genetic regions modify specific muscle groups in muscular dystrophy.

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Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


Phenotypic expression in the muscular dystrophies is variable, even with the identical mutation, providing strong evidence that genetic modifiers influence outcome. To identify genetic modifier loci, we used quantitative trait locus mapping in two differentially affected mouse strains with muscular dystrophy. Using the Sgcg model of limb girdle muscular dystrophy that lacks the dystrophin-associated protein γ-sarcoglycan, we evaluated chromosomal regions that segregated with two distinct quantifiable characteristics of muscular dystrophy, membrane permeability and fibrosis. We previously identified a single major locus on murine chromosome 7 that influences both traits of membrane permeability and fibrosis in the quadriceps muscle. Using a larger cohort, we now found that this same interval strongly associated with both traits in all limb skeletal muscle groups studied, including the gastrocnemius/soleus, gluteus/hamstring, and triceps muscles. In contrast, the muscles of the trunk were modified by distinct genetic loci, possibly reflecting the embryological origins and physiological stressors unique to these muscle groups. A locus on chromosome 18 was identified that modified membrane permeability of the abdominal muscles, and a locus on chromosome 3 was found that regulated diaphragm and abdominal muscle fibrosis. Fibrosis in the heart associated with a region on chromosome 9 and likely reflects differential function between cardiac and skeletal muscle. These data underscore the complexity of inheritance and penetrance of single-gene disorders.

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