Size and shape are critical determinants of the mechanical properties of skeletal elements and can be anticipated to be highly heritable. Moreover, the genes responsible may be independent of those that regulate bone mineral density (BMD). To begin to identify the heritable determinants of skeletal geometry, we have examined femoral cross-sectional area (FCSA) in male and female mice from two inbred strains of mice with divergent FCSA (C57BL/6 [B6] and DBA/2 [D2]), a large genetically heterogeneous population (n = 964) of B6D2F2 mice and 18 BXD recombinant inbred (RI) strains derived from their F2 cross. Femora were harvested from 16-week-old mice and FCSA (bone and marrow space enclosed within the periosteum) was measured at the midshaft by digital image analysis. In all mouse populations examined, FCSA was positively correlated with body weight and weight-corrected FCSA (WC-FCSA) values were normally distributed in the BXD-RI and F2 populations, suggesting polygenic control of this trait. Genome-wide quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis of the B6D2F2 population revealed regions on four different chromosomes that were very strongly linked to WC-FCSA (chromosomes 6, 8, 10, and X) in both genders. Evidence of gender-specific genetic influences on femoral geometry was also identified at three other chromosomal sites (chromosomes 2, 7, and 12). Supporting evidence for the WC-FCSA QTLs on chromosomes 2, 7, 8, 10, and 12 also was present in the RI strains. Interestingly, none of these WC-FCSA QTLs were identified in our previous QTL analysis of whole body BMD in the same B6D2F2 population. Thus, the genetic determinants of bone size appear to be largely, if not entirely, distinct from those that regulate BMD attainment. The identification of the genes responsible for geometric differences in bone development should reveal fundamentally important processes in the control of skeletal integrity.
- Femoral cross-sectional area
- Quantitative trait
- Quantitative trait locus analysis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine