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A method for fine mapping quantitative trait loci in outbred animal stocks.

Mott R, Talbot CJ, Turri MG, Collins AC, Flint J
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America


High-resolution mapping of quantitative trait loci (QTL) in animals has proved to be difficult because the large effect sizes detected in crosses between inbred strains are often caused by numerous linked QTLs, each of small effect. In a study of fearfulness in mice, we have shown it is possible to fine map small-effect QTLs in a genetically heterogeneous stock (HS). This strategy is a powerful general method of fine mapping QTLs, provided QTLs detected in crosses between inbred strains that formed the HS can be reliably detected in the HS. We show here that single-marker association analysis identifies only two of five QTLs expected to be segregating in the HS and apparently limits the strategy's usefulness for fine mapping. We solve this problem with a multipoint analysis that assigns the probability that an allele descends from each progenitor in the HS. The analysis does not use pedigrees but instead requires information about the HS founder haplotypes. With this method we mapped all three previously undetected loci [chromosome (Chr.) 1 logP 4.9, Chr. 10 logP 6.0, Chr. 15 logP 4.0]. We show that the reason for the failure of single-marker association to detect QTLs is its inability to distinguish opposing phenotypic effects when they occur on the same marker allele. We have developed a robust method of fine mapping QTLs in genetically heterogeneous animals and suggest it is now cost effective to undertake genomewide high-resolution analysis of complex traits in parallel on the same set of mice.

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