Analysis of the mesotelencephalic dopamine system by quantitative-trait locus introgression

C. Vadasz, I. Sziraki, M. Sasvari, P. Kabai, L. R. Murthy, M. Saito, I. Laszlovszky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

9 Citations (Scopus)


One of the significant factors that affect brain dopamine function is the activity of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the first and rate-limiting enzyme in catecholamine biosynthesis. For the analysis of the genetically determined role of dopamine function and TH in behavior and in the regulatory mechanisms of the mesotelencephalic dopamine system we devised a novel genetic strategy (Vadasz; Mouse Genome 88:16-18; 1990). We hypothesized that phenotypic introgression and recombinant fixation could ensure the transfer of Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) from one strain onto the genetic background of another strain, and new, genetically very similar quasi-congenic strains could be created that would carry individual QTLs, or QTLs in various combinations. Here we summarize the construction of the first set of QTL Introgression strains, and present evidence that QTLs that are responsible for the continuous variation of mesencephalic tyrosine hydroxylase activity (TH/MES), have been transferred onto the C57BL/6By (B6) strain background from BALB/cJ (C) and CXBI (I) donor strains with high and low TH/MES, respectively. The QTL transfer was carried out in two directions by repeated backcross-intercross cycles with concomitant selection for the extreme high and low expressions of TH/MES in replicates, resulting in four QTL Introgression lines. Analysis of regional brain TH activities in the course of the QTL introgression indicated that (a) TH activity in B6.I lines showed quite limited heritability, (b) TH/MES was not highly correlated with striatal TH, and (c) the control of hypothalamic and olfactory tubercle TH activities was largely independent from that of TH/MES. Examination of the open-field (OF) behavior data demonstrated that TH activity did not correlate significantly with OF behavior. After 5 backcross-intercross cycles, TH/MES in each replicate line was still significantly different from that of the B6 background strain. A genomewide scanning of microsatellite markers in the QTL introgression lines demonstrated that about 96% of the markers were of background (B6) type. These results indicate the successful transfer of TH/MES QTLs. After the QTL transfer phase of the experiment altogether more than 100 new RQI strains were initiated in the QTL Introgression lines by strict brother x sister mating. After fixing the introgressed QTLs, ten of the inbred RQI strains were tested for TH/MES. The results showed that in one of the new RQI strains TH/MES was restored to a level that is characteristic to the C donor strain, while TH/MES values in some other strains were between those of the background and donor strains, confirming our hypothesis that phenotypic introgression and recombinant fixation can ensure a virtually complete transfer of QTLs. We conclude from this study that complex, continuously distributed neural traits can successfully be subjected to QTL introgression, and the results raise the possibility that the RQI method can be efficiently applied for gene mapping of complex neural and behavioral traits even if their phenotypic expression is sensitive to confounding developmental and environmental variations, genetic interactions, and genotype-environment interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1337-1354
Number of pages18
JournalNeurochemical research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 14 1998



  • Behavior genetics
  • Dopamine
  • Gene mapping
  • Genetics
  • Inbred mouse strains
  • Mesencephalon
  • Mouse
  • Open-field behavior
  • QTL Introgression
  • Tyrosine hydroxylase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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