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Rgcs1, A Dominant QTL That Affects Retinal Ganglion Cell Death After Optic Nerve Crush In Mice

Joel A. Dietz, Y. Li, L. Chung, B. Yandell, C. L. Schlamp, R. Nickells
Published 2008 · Biology, Medicine

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BackgroundIntrinsic apoptosis of neuronal somas is one aspect of neurodegenerative diseases that can be influenced by genetic background. Genes that affect this process may act as susceptibility alleles that contribute to the complex genetic nature of these diseases. Retinal ganglion cell death is a defining feature of the chronic and genetically complex neurodegenerative disease glaucoma. Previous studies using an optic nerve crush procedure in inbred mice, showed that ganglion cell resistance to crush was affected by the Mendelian-dominant inheritance of 1–2 predicted loci. To assess this further, we bred and phenotyped a large population of F2 mice derived from a resistant inbred strain (DBA/2J) and a susceptible strain (BALB/cByJ).ResultsGenome wide mapping of the F2 mice using microsatellite markers, detected a single highly significant quantitative trait locus in a 25 cM (58 Mb) interval on chromosome 5 (Chr5.loc34-59 cM). No interacting loci were detected at the resolution of this screen. We have designated this locus as Retinal ganglion cell susceptible 1, Rgcs1. In silico analysis of this region revealed the presence of 578 genes or expressed sequence tags, 4 of which are highly expressed in the ganglion cell layer of the mammalian retina, and 2 of which are suspected susceptibility alleles in chronic neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, 25 genes contain 36 known single nucleotide polymorphisms that create nonsynonymous amino acid changes between the two parental strains. Collectively, this analysis has identified 7 potential candidate genes that may affect ganglion cell death.ConclusionThe process of ganglion cell death is likely one of the many facets of glaucoma susceptibility. A novel dominant locus has been identified that affects sensitivity of ganglion cells to optic nerve crush. The allele responsible for this sensitivity may also be a susceptibility allele for glaucoma.
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