Most lung tumor linkage studies focus on identifying loci that confer susceptibility or resistance irrespective of the tumor types developed. However, different mouse strains develop different types of lung tumors. A major obstacle for genetic studies of these differences is the lack of reproducible, quantitative, and uniform assessment of tumor type. We have previously described a new variable (Rratio) that assesses the three-dimensional shape of lung tumors in a quantifiable way and showed that nonspherical tumors are correlated with tumor heterogeneity and with a tendency to asymmetrical growth (N. Tripodis and P. Demant, Exp. Lung Res., 27: 521-531, 2001). In the present study, we use the Rratio variable to search for quantitative trait loci affecting tumor phenotype. We tested the F(2) cross between the susceptible strain O20 and the recombinant congenic strain OcB-9. Both develop mixed alveolar and papillary lung tumors, and the OcB9 tumors are, on average, more elongated than the O20 ones. We mapped eight new lung tumor shape-determining loci (Ltsd1-8) involved in mutual interactions. Two of these loci, Ltsd1 and Ltsd3, seem to play a major role in tumor shape formation. The Ltsd4 locus was confirmed in a second F(2) cross between strain O20 and the recombinant congenic strain OcB-6. Genotype-phenotype associations show that nonspherical tumors are correlated with tumor heterogeneity and nonsymmetrical (focal) development of structures. Most of the new Ltsd loci map in regions where susceptibility to lung cancer (Sluc) loci have been previously mapped, raising the question of whether they are identical or closely linked loci. Based on models of tumor growth indicating that supply of nutrients and the ability to create a capillary network may be shape-determining factors (G. P. Pescarmona et al., Med. Hypoth., 53: 497-503, 1999), we suggest as likely candidates for the Ltsd loci genes involved in angiogenesis, vascularization, and capillary patterning. This is the first set of loci that affects qualitative aspects of lung tumors and may provide biologically and clinically interesting indicators of lung tumor progression.
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