Mapping genes responsible for strain-specific iron phenotypes in murine chromosome substitution strains

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The highly variable clinical phenotype observed in patients homozygous for the C282Y mutation of the hereditary hemochromatosis gene (HFE) is likely due to the influence of non-HFE modifier genes. The primary functional abnormality causing iron overload in hemochromatosis is hyper-absorption of dietary iron. We found that iron absorption in inbred mice varies in a strain-specific manner, as does the pattern of iron distribution to the liver and spleen. A/J mice absorbed approximately twice the amount of 59Fe delivered by gavage compared to the C57BL/6 strain. Genetic comparisons between A/J and C57BL/6 were facilitated by the availability of consomic chromosome substitution strains (CSS). Each CSS has an individual chromosome pair from A/J on an otherwise C57BL/6J background. We found that iron absorption and iron content in liver and in spleen were continuous variables suggesting that each trait is under multigenic control. No trait co-segregated among the CSS. Chromosome 5 from A/J, however, imparted the highest iron absorption phenotype and multiple CSS had absorption levels equivalent to A/J. Chromosomes 9 and X were associated with high spleen iron content. These data suggest that multiple genes contribute to the regulation of iron absorption and that individual organ iron phenotypes are independently regulated.

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Ajioka, R. S., LeBoeuf, R. C., Gillespie, R. R., Amon, L. M., & Kushner, J. P. (2007). Mapping genes responsible for strain-specific iron phenotypes in murine chromosome substitution strains. Blood Cells, Molecules, and Diseases, 39(2), 199–205.

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