Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Genetics and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research article

Quantitative trait locus mapping of genes associated with vacuolation in the adrenal X-zone of the DDD/Sgn inbred mouse

Jun-ichi Suto

Author affiliations

Agrogenomics Research Center, National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8634, Japan

Citation and License

BMC Genetics 2012, 13:95  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-13-95

Published: 6 November 2012



Adrenal gland of mice contains a transient zone between the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla: the X-zone. There are clear strain differences in terms of X-zone morphology. Nulliparous females of the inbred mouse DDD strain develop adrenal X-zones containing exclusively vacuolated cells, whereas females of the inbred mouse B6 strain develop X-zones containing only non-vacuolated cells. The X-zone vacuolation is a physiologic process associated with the X-zone degeneration and is tightly regulated by genetic factors. Identification of the genetic factors controlling such strain differences should help analyze the X-zone function. In this study, a quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis for the extent of X-zone vacuolation was performed for two types of F2 female mice: F2Ay mice (F2 mice with the Ay allele) and F2 non-Ay mice (F2 mice without the Ay allele). These were produced by crossing B6 females and DDD.Cg-Ay males. DDD.Cg-Ay is a congenic mouse strain for the Ay allele at the agouti locus and is used for this study because a close association between the X-zone morphology and the agouti locus genotype has been suggested. The Ay allele is dominant and homozygous lethal; therefore, living Ay mice are invariably heterozygotes.


Single QTL scans identified significant QTLs on chromosomes 1, 2, 6, and X for F2 non-Ay mice, and on chromosomes 2, 6, and 12 for F2Ay mice. The QTL on chromosome 2 was considered to be because of the agouti locus, which has been suggested to be associated with X-zone vacuolation. A significant QTL that interacted with the agouti locus was identified on chromosome 8.


The extent of X-zone vacuolation in DDD females was controlled by multiple genes with complex interactions. The murine X-zone is considered analogous structure to the human fetal zone. Therefore, the results of this study will aid in understanding function of not only of the X-zone but also of the human fetal zone. Identifying the genes responsible for the QTLs will be essential for understanding the molecular basis of X-zone function, which is currently unclear.

Adrenal X-zone; DDD mice; Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping