Genetic and genomic analyses of musculoskeletal differences between BEH and BEL strains

Arimantas Lionikas, Audrius Kilikevicius, Lutz Buenger, Caroline Meharg (nee Reiff), Andrew M Carroll, Aivaras Ratkevicius, Tomas Venckunas, David A Blizard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Berlin high (BEH) and Berlin low (BEL) strains selected for divergent growth differ 3-fold in body weight. We aimed at examining muscle mass, which is a major contributor to body weight, by exploring anatomical characteristics of the soleus muscle, its fiber numbers and their cross sectional area (CSA), by analysing transcriptome of the gastrocnemius and by initiating quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping. BEH muscles were 4-to-8 times larger compared to BEL strain. In sub-strain BEH+/+, mutant myostatin was replaced with a wild type allele, however, BEH+/+muscles still were 2-to-4 times larger compared to the BEL strain. BEH soleus contained 2-times more (P<0.0001) and 2-times larger in CSA (P<0.0001) fibers compared to BEL strain. In addition, soleus femoral attachment anomaly (SFAA) was observed in all BEL mice. One significant (chromosome 1) and four suggestive (chromosomes 3, 4, 6 and 9) muscle weight QTLs were mapped in 21-day old F2 intercross (n=296) between BEH and BEL strains. The frequency of SFAA incidence in the F2 and in the backcross to BEL strain (BCL) suggested the presence of more than one causative gene. Two suggestive SFAA QTLs were mapped in BCL, however, their peak markers were not associated with the phenotype in F2. RNA-Seq analysis revealed 2,148 differentially expressed (P<0.1) genes and 45,673 SNPs and >2,000 indels between BEH+/+ and BEL males. In conclusion, contrasting muscle traits, genomic and gene expression differences between BEH and BEL strains provide a promising model for the search of genes involved in muscle growth and musculoskeletal morphogenesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)940-947
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number20
Early online date20 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2013

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