Obesity is a heritable trait caused by complex interactions between genes and environment, including diet. Gene-by-diet interactions are difficult to study in humans because the human diet is hard to control. Here, we used mice to study dietary obesity genes, by four methods. First, we bred 213 F2 mice from strains that are susceptible [C57BL/6ByJ (B6)] or resistant [129P3/J (129)] to dietary obesity. Percent body fat was assessed after mice ate low-energy diet and again after the same mice ate high-energy diet for 8 weeks. Linkage analyses identified QTLs associated with dietary obesity. Three methods were used to filter candidate genes within the QTL regions: (a) association mapping was conducted using >40 strains; (b) differential gene expression and (c) comparison of genomic DNA sequence, using two strains closely related to the progenitor strains from Experiment 1. The QTL effects depended on whether the mice were male or female or which diet they were recently fed. After feeding a low-energy diet, percent body fat was linked to chr 7 (LOD=3.42). After feeding a high-energy diet, percent body fat was linked to chr 9 (Obq5; LOD=3.88), chr 12 (Obq34; LOD=3.88), and chr 17 (LOD=4.56). The Chr 7 and 12 QTLs were sex dependent and all QTL were diet-dependent. The combination of filtering methods highlighted seven candidate genes within the QTL locus boundaries: Crx, Dmpk, Ahr, Mrpl28, Glo1, Tubb5, and Mut. However, these filtering methods have limitations so gene identification will require alternative strategies, such as the construction of congenics with very small donor regions.
Effects of gustatory nerve transection on salt taste have been studied extensively in rats and hamsters but have not been well explored in the mouse. We examined the effects of chorda tympani (CT) nerve transection on NaCl taste preferences and thresholds in outbred CD-1 mice using a high-throughput phenotyping method developed in our laboratory. To measure taste thresholds, mice were conditioned by oral self-administration of LiCl or NaCl and then presented with NaCl concentration series in 2-bottle preference tests. LiCl-conditioned and control NaCl-exposed mice were given bilateral transections of the CT nerve (LiCl-CTX, NaCl-CTX) or were left intact as controls (LiCl-CNT, NaCl-CNT). After recovery from surgery, mice received a concentration series of NaCl (0-300 mM) in 48-h 2-bottle tests. CT transection increased NaCl taste thresholds in LiCl-conditioned mice and eliminated avoidance of concentrated NaCl in control NaCl-exposed mice. This demonstrates that in mice, the CT nerve is important for detection and recognition of NaCl taste and is necessary for the normal avoidance of high concentrations of NaCl. The results of this experiment also show that the method of high-throughput phenotyping of salt taste thresholds is suitable for detecting changes in the taste periphery in mouse genetic studies.
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