Identifying genetic loci and spleen gene coexpression networks underlying immunophenotypes in BXD recombinant inbred mice

Physiol Genomics. 2010 May;41(3):244-53. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00020.2010. Epub 2010 Feb 23.


The immune system plays a pivotal role in the susceptibility to and progression of a variety of diseases. Due to a strong genetic basis, heritable differences in immune function may contribute to differential disease susceptibility between individuals. Genetic reference populations, such as the BXD (C57BL/6J × DBA/2J) panel of recombinant inbred (RI) mouse strains, provide unique models through which to integrate baseline phenotypes in healthy individuals with heritable risk for disease because of the ability to combine data collected from these populations across both multiple studies and time. We performed basic immunophenotyping (e.g., percentage of circulating B and T lymphocytes and CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell subpopulations) in peripheral blood of healthy mice from 41 BXD RI strains to define the immunophenotypic variation in this strain panel and to characterize the genetic architecture that underlies these traits. Significant QTL models that explained the majority (50-77%) of phenotypic variance were derived for each trait and for the T:B cell and CD4(+):CD8(+) ratios. Combining QTL mapping with spleen gene expression data uncovered two quantitative trait transcripts, Ptprk and Acp1, as candidates for heritable differences in the relative abundance of helper and cytotoxic T cells. These data will be valuable in extracting genetic correlates of the immune system in the BXD panel. In addition, they will be a useful resource for prospective, phenotype-driven model selection to test hypotheses about differential disease or environmental susceptibility between individuals with baseline differences in the composition of the immune system.

Keywords: Acp1; B lymphocytes; CD4:CD8 ratio; Ptprk; T lymphocytes; T:B cell ratio; eQTL; quantitative trait loci; quantitative trait transcript.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks*
  • Genetic Loci*
  • Immunophenotyping*
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Recombination, Genetic / genetics*
  • Spleen / metabolism*


  • RNA, Messenger