Variations of eye size parameters among different strains of mice

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Abstract

In the mouse, only a few genes have been definitively associated with a small-eye phenotype; the paired-box gene Pax6 and the gene coding for the microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (Mitf). Mutant alleles were recovered by crude phenotype screens and their effects on eye size are relatively large. This feature points to a bias during screening for eye-size mutants, selecting preferentially more severe phenotypes. An unbiased method determining eye-size parameters in an observer-independent, quantitative manner is expected to pick up variations in other genes, which will be confirmed as pathologic mutations in confirmation crosses. The present study used optical low coherent interferometry (OLCI) to compare the axial eye length, the cornea and lens thicknesses, and the anterior chamber depth in four common wild-type, laboratory inbred strains (C57BL/6J, C3HeB/FeJ, 129S2/SvPasCrl, and BALB/cByJ) between 4 and 15 weeks of age. There were no differences between left and right eyes; differences between the size parameters of males and females have been observed only in a few cases. An optimal screening age for OLCI measurements was defined as 11 weeks of age. At this age, we checked two other inbred strains (AKR/J and DBA/2NCrl) as well as CD-1 outbred mice. CD-1 mice have the largest axial length. The most impressive differences among inbred strains were, first, the anterior chamber depth, where the DBA mice have significantly lower values than the other strains. Second, the cornea in C3H mice is approximately 20% thicker than in the other inbred strains. Finally, wild-type intervals (mean ± 3 SD) for axial length, anterior chamber depth, and cornea and lens thicknesses were calculated allowing a quick identification of pathologic outliers.

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