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Genetics. 2012 Jul;191(3):1003-13. doi: 10.1534/genetics.112.138909. Epub 2012 May 2.

Sex modifies genetic effects on residual variance in urinary calcium excretion in rat (Rattus norvegicus).

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Department of Medicine, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA.


Conventional genetics assumes common variance among alleles or genetic groups. However, evidence from vertebrate and invertebrate models suggests that residual genotypic variance may itself be under partial genetic control. Such a phenomenon would have great significance: high-variability alleles might confound the detection of "classically" acting genes or scatter predicted evolutionary outcomes among unpredicted trajectories. Of the few works on this phenomenon, many implicate sex in some aspect of its control. We found that female genetic hypercalciuric stone-forming (GHS) rats (Rattus norvegicus) had higher coefficients of variation (CVs) for urinary calcium (CV = 0.14) than GHS males (CV = 0.06), and the reverse in normocalciuric Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY) (CV(♂) = 0.14; CV(♀) = 0.09), suggesting sex-by-genotype interaction on residual variance. We therefore investigated the effect of sex on absolute-transformed residuals in urinary calcium in an F(2) GHS × WKY mapping cohort. Absolute residuals were associated with genotype at two microsatellites, D3Rat46 (RNO3, 33.9 Mb) and D4Mgh1 (RNO4, 84.8 MB) at Bonferroni thresholds across the entire cohort, and with the microsatellites D3Rat46, D9Mgh2 (RNO9, 84.4 Mb), and D12Rat25 (RNO12, 40.4 Mb) in females (P < 0.05) but not males. In GHS chromosome 1 congenic lines bred onto a WKY genomic background, we found that congenic males had significantly (P < 0.0001) higher CVs for urinary calcium (CV = 0.25) than females (CV = 0.15), supporting the hypothesis of the inheritance of sex-by-genotype interaction on this effect. Our findings suggest that genetic effects on residual variance are sex linked; heritable, sex-specific residuals might have great potential implications for evolution, adaptation, and genetic analysis.

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