Open Access Research article

Body composition and gene expression QTL mapping in mice reveals imprinting and interaction effects

Ye Cheng1, Satyanarayana Rachagani12, Angela Cánovas3, Mary Sue Mayes1, Richard G Tait1, Jack CM Dekkers1 and James M Reecy1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, 2255 Kildee, Ames, IA, USA

2 Current address: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of Pathology and Microbiology, Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA

3 Genètica i Millora Animal, Institute de Recercai Tecnologia Agroalimentària, Lleida, Spain

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Genetics 2013, 14:103  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-14-103

Published: 29 October 2013



Shifts in body composition, such as accumulation of body fat, can be a symptom of many chronic human diseases; hence, efforts have been made to investigate the genetic mechanisms that underlie body composition. For example, a few quantitative trait loci (QTL) have been discovered using genome-wide association studies, which will eventually lead to the discovery of causal mutations that are associated with tissue traits. Although some body composition QTL have been identified in mice, limited research has been focused on the imprinting and interaction effects that are involved in these traits. Previously, we found that Myostatin genotype, reciprocal cross, and sex interacted with numerous chromosomal regions to affect growth traits.


Here, we report on the identification of muscle, adipose, and morphometric phenotypic QTL (pQTL), translation and transcription QTL (tQTL) and expression QTL (eQTL) by applying a QTL model with additive, dominance, imprinting, and interaction effects. Using an F2 population of 1000 mice derived from the Myostatin-null C57BL/6 and M16i mouse lines, six imprinted pQTL were discovered on chromosomes 6, 9, 10, 11, and 18. We also identified two IGF1 and two Atp2a2 eQTL, which could be important trans-regulatory elements. pQTL, tQTL and eQTL that interacted with Myostatin, reciprocal cross, and sex were detected as well. Combining with the additive and dominance effect, these variants accounted for a large amount of phenotypic variation in this study.


Our study indicates that both imprinting and interaction effects are important components of the genetic model of body composition traits. Furthermore, the integration of eQTL and traditional QTL mapping may help to explain more phenotypic variation than either alone, thereby uncovering more molecular details of how tissue traits are regulated.

eQTL mapping; QTL mapping; Body composition; Myostatin; Imprinting; Interaction; Mouse