Phenotypic effects of the 'mini-muscle' allele in a large HR x C57BL/6J mouse backcross


From outbred Hsd:ICR mice, we selectively bred 4 replicate lines for high running (High-Runner [HR] lines) on wheels while maintaining 4 nonselected lines as controls (C lines). An apparent Mendelian recessive, the ‘mini-muscle’ (MM) allele, whose main phenotypic effect is to reduce hindlimb muscle mass by 50%, was discovered in 2 HR lines and 1 C line. This gene of major effect has gone to fixation in one selected line, remains polymorphic in another, and is now undetectable in the one C line. Homozygotes exhibit various pleiotropic effects, including a doubling of mass-specific muscle aerobic capacity, and larger hearts, livers, and spleens. To create a population suitable for mapping the genomic location of the MM allele and to better characterize its pleiotropic effects, we crossed females fixed for the MM allele with male C57BL/6J. F(1) males were then backcrossed to the MM parent females. Backcross (BC) mice (N = 404) were dissected, and a 50:50 ratio of normal to MM phenotype was observed with no overlap in relative muscle mass. In the BC, analysis of covariance revealed that MM individuals ran significantly more on days 5 and 6 of a 6-day exposure to running wheels (as in the routine selective-breeding protocol), were smaller in body mass, and had larger ventricles and spleens.

Journal of Heredity