Author(s): Li Y, Semaan SJ, Schlamp CL, Nickells RW. Dominant inheritance of retinal ganglion cell resistance to optic nerve crush in mice. BMC Neurosci. 2007 Mar 5;8:19. PMID 17338819
Journal: Bmc Neuroscience, Volume 8, Mar 2007
BACKGROUND Several neurodegenerative diseases are influenced by complex genetics that affect an individual’s susceptibility, disease severity, and rate of progression. One such disease is glaucoma, a chronic neurodegenerative condition of the eye that targets and stimulates apoptosis of CNS neurons called retinal ganglion cells. Since ganglion cell death is intrinsic, it is reasonable that the genes that control this process may contribute to the complex genetics that affect ganglion cell susceptibility to disease. To determine if genetic background influences susceptibility to optic nerve damage, leading to ganglion cell death, we performed optic nerve crush on 15 different inbred lines of mice and measured ganglion cell loss. Resistant and susceptible strains were used in a reciprocal breeding strategy to examine the inheritance pattern of the resistance phenotype. Because earlier studies had implicated Bax as a susceptibility allele for ganglion cell death in the chronic neurodegenerative disease glaucoma, we conducted allelic segregation analysis and mRNA quantification to assess this gene as a candidate for the cell death phenotype.
RESULTS Inbred lines showed varying levels of susceptibility to optic nerve crush. DBA/2J mice were most resistant and BALB/cByJ mice were most susceptible. F1 mice from these lines inherited the DBA/2J phenotype, while N2 backcross mice exhibited the BALB/cByJ phenotype. F2 mice exhibited an intermediate phenotype. A Wright Formula calculation suggested as few as 2 dominant loci were linked to the resistance phenotype, which was corroborated by a Punnett Square analysis of the distribution of the mean phenotype in each cross. The levels of latent Bax mRNA were the same in both lines, and Bax alleles did not segregate with phenotype in N2 and F2 mice.
CONCLUSION Inbred mice show different levels of resistance to optic nerve crush. The resistance phenotype is heritable in a dominant fashion involving relatively few loci. Bax was excluded as a candidate gene for this phenotype.