The genetic component of susceptibility to malaria is complex, both in humans and in the mouse model of infection. Two murine loci on chromosomes 8 (Pchr/Char2) and 9 (Char1) have previously been mapped in F(2) crosses, and play an important role in regulating blood parasitemia and survival to infection with Plasmodium chabaudi. These loci explain only part of the interstrain phenotypic variance, and their penetrance and expressivity vary in different inbred strains. Novel loci regulating response to P. chabaudi infection were investigated by using an alternative strategy based on a newly derived set of AcB/BcA recombinant congenic strains bred from malaria-susceptible A/J (A) and resistant C57BL/6J (B6). One of the AcB strains, AcB55, is shown to be highly resistant to infection despite 83% susceptible A genomic composition, including susceptibility alleles at Char1 and Pchr/Char2. Early onset of parasite clearance in AcB55 is associated with lower peak parasitemia and absence of mortality. Linkage analysis in an informative (AcB55 x A)F(2) population, using peak parasitemia as a quantitative trait, located a new B6-derived resistance locus on chromosome 3 (lod score = 6.57) that we designate Char4. A second, suggestive linkage on chromosome 10 (lod score = 2.53) shows additive effect with Char4 on peak parasitemia. Char4 maps to a small congenic B6 fragment in AcB55 that should facilitate the search for candidate genes. Our findings provide an entry point for parallel association studies in humans between the syntenic 4q21-4q25 region and susceptibility to disease in endemic areas of malaria.
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