Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analyses of plasma cholesterol levels were carried out in three sets of F(2) mice that were formed in a \'round-robin\' manner from C57BL/6J, KK (-A(y)), and RR strains. Six QTLs were identified on chromosomes 1 (Cq1, Cq2, and Cq6), 3 (Cq3), and 9 (Cq4 and Cq5); of these, Cq2 colocalized with Cq6, and Cq4 colocalized with Cq5. The major candidate gene for Cq2 and Cq6 is Apoa2, and that for Cq4 and Cq5 is Apoa4. The adequacy of polymorphisms in candidate genes as cause of QTLs was investigated in this study. For Apoa2, three different alleles (Apoa2(a), Apoa2(b), and Apoa2(c)) are known. Since there was no significant physiologic difference between Apoa2(a) and Apoa2(c) alleles, previous hypothesis that Apoa2(b) was different from Apoa2(a) and Apoa2(c) in the ability to increase cholesterol levels was further supported. Presumably, G-to-A substitution at nucleotide 84 and/or C-to-T substitution at nucleotide 182 are crucial to make the Apoa2(b) unique. On the other hand, for Apoa4, the most striking polymorphism was the number of Glu-Gln-Ala/Val-Gln repeats in carboxyl end; however, this might not be responsible for QTLs. Instead, a silent mutation, C-to-T substitution at nucleotide 771, was shown to be completely correlated with the occurrence of QTLs in a total of six F(2) intercrosses. Provisionally, but reasonably, these base substitutions are qualified as primary causes that constitute QTL effect. The potential strategy for identifying genes and base substitutions underlying QTLs is discussed.
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