Quantitative trait loci affecting initial sensitivity and acute functional tolerance to ethanol-induced ataxia and brain cAMP signaling in BXD recombinant inbred mice.
In previous work, we identified genetic correlations between cAMP accumulation in the cerebellum and sensitivity to the incoordinating effects of ethanol. A genetic correlation suggests that common genes underlie the phenotypes investigated. One method for provisionally identifying genes involved in a given phenotypic measure is quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis. Using a panel of 30 BXD recombinant inbred strains of mice and the progenitors (DBA/2J and C57BL/6J), and the dowel test for ataxia, we measured the blood ethanol concentrations at the time an animal first fell from the dowel and acute functional tolerance (AFT), and investigated cAMP signaling in the cerebellum. Cyclic AMP accumulation was measured in whole-cell preparations of cerebellar minces from individual mice under basal or stimulated conditions. We conducted a genome-wide QTL analysis of the behavioral and biochemical measures with >2000 genetic markers to identify significant associations. Western blot and comparative sequencing analysis were used to compare cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) levels and protein-coding sequence, respectively. QTL analyses correlating strain means with allelic status at genetic markers identified several significant associations (p < 0.01). Analysis of variance revealed an effect of strain on behavioral and biochemical measures. There was a significant genetic correlation between initial sensitivity and basal cAMP accumulation in the cerebellum. We identified 6 provisional QTLs for initial sensitivity on four chromosomes, 6 provisional QTLs for AFT on four chromosomes, and 11 provisional QTLs for cAMP signaling on nine chromosomes. Two loci were found to overlap for measures of initial sensitivity and for cAMP signaling. Given the genetic correlation between initial sensitivity and basal cAMP accumulation, we investigated candidate genes in a QTL on chromosome 1. Comparative sequence analysis was performed, and protein levels were compared between C57 and DBA mice for Creb1. No significant differences were detected in coding sequence or protein levels for CREB. These results suggest that although ethanol sensitivity and cAMP signaling are determined by multiple genes, they may share certain genetic codetermination.