In silico QTL mapping of maternal nurturing ability with the mouse diversity panel

Physiol Genomics. 2012 Aug 17;44(16):787-98. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00159.2011. Epub 2012 Jul 3.


Significant variation exists for maternal nurturing ability in inbred mice. Although classical mapping approaches have identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) that may account for this variation, the underlying genes are unknown. In this study, lactation performance data among the mouse diversity panel were used to map genomic regions associated with this variation. Females from each of 32 inbred strains (n = 8-19 dams/strain) were studied during the first 8 days of lactation by allowing them to raise weight- and size-normalized cross-foster litters (10 pups/litter). Average daily weight gain (ADG) of litters served as the primary indicator of milk production. The number of pups successfully reared to 8 days (PNUM8) also served as a related indicator of maternal performance. Initial haplotype association analysis using a Bonferroni-corrected, genome-wide threshold revealed 10 and 15 associations encompassing 11 and 13 genes for ADG and PNUM8, respectively. The most significant of these associated haplotype blocks were found on MMU 8, 11, and 19 and contained the genes Nr3c2, Egfr, Sec61g, and Gnaq. Lastly, two haplotype blocks on MMU9 were detected in association with PNUM8. These overlapped with the previously described maternal performance QTL, Neogq1. These results suggest that the application of in silico QTL mapping is a useful tool in discovering the presence of novel candidate genes involved in determining lactation capacity in mice.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Inbred Strains
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Lactation / genetics*
  • Litter Size / genetics
  • Male
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Mice
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid / genetics
  • Survival Analysis
  • Weight Gain / genetics


  • Membrane Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid
  • ErbB Receptors