Retinal development depends on complex interactions between products of thousands of genes and numerous cellular and environmental factors. We are using novel quantitative genetic methods to map and characterize genes that are responsible for the pervasive quantitative differences in the architecture of the eye and the retina. These genes, known as quantitative trait loci (QTLs), may also determine susceptibility to common eye diseases. To map QTLs that generate variation among normal individuals we have analyzed several traits in a wide variety of mice, including standard inbred strains, recombinant inbred strains, wild mice, F1 hybrids and intercross progeny. Here we review this approach and give three specific examples of how genes with well-defined functions in retinal development are being mapped and characterized.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.