The corpus callosum is the main commissure connecting left and right cerebral hemispheres, and varies widely in size. Differences in the midsagittal area of the corpus callosum (MSACC) have been associated with a number of cognitive and behavioral phenotypes, including obsessive-compulsive disorders, psychopathy, suicidal tendencies, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although there is evidence to suggest that MSACC is heritable in normal human populations, there is surprisingly little evidence concerning the genetic modulation of this variation. Mice provide a potentially ideal tool to dissect the genetic modulation of MSACC. Here, we use a large genetic reference panel - the BXD recombinant inbred line - to dissect the natural variation of the MSACC. We estimated the MSACC in over 300 individuals from nearly 80 strains. We found a 4-fold difference in MSACC between individual mice, and a 2.5-fold difference among strains. MSACC is a highly heritable trait (h(2) = 0.60), and we mapped a suggestive QTL to the distal portion of Chr 14. Using sequence data and neocortical expression databases, we were able to identify eight positional and plausible biological candidate genes within this interval. Finally, we found that MSACC correlated with behavioral traits associated with anxiety and attention.
Keywords: BXD; QTL; corpus callosum; midsagittal area; mouse; neocortex.