Identifying novel genes for atherosclerosis through mouse-human comparative genetics

Am J Hum Genet. 2005 Jul;77(1):1-15. doi: 10.1086/431656. Epub 2005 May 19.


Susceptibility to atherosclerosis is determined by both environmental and genetic factors. Its genetic determinants have been studied by use of quantitative-trait-locus (QTL) analysis. So far, 21 atherosclerosis QTLs have been identified in the mouse: 7 in a high-fat-diet model only, 9 in a sensitized model (apolipoprotein E- or LDL [low-density lipoprotein] receptor-deficient mice) only, and 5 in both models, suggesting that different gene sets operate in each model and that a subset operates in both. Among the 27 human atherosclerosis QTLs reported, 17 (63%) are located in regions homologous (concordant) to mouse QTLs, suggesting that these mouse and human atherosclerosis QTLs have the same underlying genes. Therefore, genes regulating human atherosclerosis will be found most efficiently by first finding their orthologs in concordant mouse QTLs. Novel mouse QTL genes will be found most efficiently by using a combination of the following strategies: identifying QTLs in new crosses performed with previously unused parental strains; inducing mutations in large-scale, high-throughput mutagenesis screens; and using new genomic and bioinformatics tools. Once QTL genes are identified in mice, they can be tested in human association studies for their relevance in human atherosclerotic disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteriosclerosis / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Mutagenesis
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*


  • Lipoproteins, HDL