Quantitative trait loci for fluctuating asymmetry of discrete skeletal characters in mice

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Levels of fluctuating asymmetry (FA) are often taken as indicators of the degree to which genotypes differ in their ability to buffer genetic and environmental sources of variation. Interval mapping techniques were used to search for quantitative trait loci (QTLs) affecting directional asymmetry (DA) and fluctuating asymmetry (FA) in six bilateral discrete skeletal traits in house mice. These six characters as well as 76 microsatellite markers were scored in over 500 mice that resulted from crosses of F1 mice originally produced from matings of the Large (LG/J) and Small (SM/J) inbred strains. The number of QTLs affecting DA in each of the characters was no more than expected by chance alone so it was concluded that there was little evidence for individual genes affecting DA. There appeared to be a genetical basis for FA in these characters, however, because the number of QTLs significantly affecting FA (10 at the 5% level, three at the 1% level) was greater than expected by chance alone. The 10 QTLs significantly affecting FA in any given character were located on eight different chromosomes, mostly at locations for QTLs affecting other characters or DA in other characters. Their cumulative contribution to the total phenotypic variance was small, averaging only 3.9% per locus. Dominance genotypic values for these QTLs were more extreme than additive genotypic values, suggesting that heterozygotes at many loci are better buffered than homozygotes and that allelic interactions (dominance) may play an important role in the production of FA.

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