Performance in the open field and rotarod paradigms, two common assessments of locomotor function, have been demonstrated to be strain dependent in mice. In this study, eight significant quantitative trait loci (QTL) for behavior phenotypes in either the open field or rotarod paradigms were identified between the 129S6 (129/SvEvTac) and C57BL/6J strains. These strains were chosen for comparison because of their frequent use in the generation of mutant mice from gene-targeted, embryonic stem cells. Two of the QTLs for horizontal distance traveled are located on Chromosomes (Chrs) 1 and 12 and closely replicate the findings of other groups using different strains of mice. Rotarod performance was influenced in an oppositional manner by two separate QTLs on Chr 1 and 2. Additionally, examination of several different aspects of behavior in the open field revealed significant QTLs for average speed (Chr 12), duration (Chrs 2, 16, and 18), time spent in motion (Chr 16), vertical movements (rearing) (Chrs 6 and 12), and vertical time (rearing time) (Chrs 6 and 12). Our finding of independent QTLs for these topographic components of open field activity supports the idea that they are separate and distinct from total horizontal distance traveled and should be studied independently. The QTLs described in this study, in combination with our panel of polymorphic chromosomal markers for 129S6 and C57BL/6J strains, will be useful in assessing the potential epistatic effects of parental strain background on the phenotypes of genetically modified mice.
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