Strain screen and haplotype association mapping of wheel running in inbred mouse strains.
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Previous genetic association studies of physical activity, in both animal and human models, have been limited in number of subjects and genetically homozygous strains used as well as number of genomic markers available for analysis. Expansion of the available mouse physical activity strain screens and the recently published dense single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) map of the mouse genome (approximately 8.3 million SNPs) and associated statistical methods allowed us to construct a more generalizable map of the quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with physical activity. Specifically, we measured wheel running activity in male and female mice (average age 9 wk) in 41 inbred strains and used activity data from 38 of these strains in a haplotype association mapping analysis to determine QTL associated with activity. As seen previously, there was a large range of activity patterns among the strains, with the highest and lowest strains differing significantly in daily distance run (27.4-fold), duration of activity (23.6-fold), and speed (2.9-fold). On a daily basis, female mice ran further (24%), longer (13%), and faster (11%). Twelve QTL were identified, with three (on Chr. 12, 18, and 19) in both male and female mice, five specific to males, and four specific to females. Eight of the 12 QTL, including the 3 general QTL found for both sexes, fell into intergenic areas. The results of this study further support the findings of a moderate to high heritability of physical activity and add general genomic areas applicable to a large number of mouse strains that can be further mined for candidate genes associated with regulation of physical activity. Additionally, results suggest that potential genetic mechanisms arising from traditional noncoding regions of the genome may be involved in regulation of physical activity.