The hush puppy mouse mutant has been shown previously to have skull and outer, middle, and inner ear defects, and an increase in hearing threshold. The fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (Fgfr1) gene is located in the region of chromosome 8 containing the mutation. Sequencing of the gene in hush puppy heterozygotes revealed a missense mutation in the kinase domain of the protein (W691R). Homozygotes were found to die during development, at approximately embryonic day 8.5, and displayed a phenotype similar to null mutants. Reverse transcription PCR indicated a decrease in Fgfr1 transcript in heterozygotes and homozygotes. Generation of a construct containing the mutation allowed the function of the mutated receptor to be studied. Immunocytochemistry showed that the mutant receptor protein was present at the cell membrane, suggesting normal expression and trafficking. Measurements of changes in intracellular calcium concentration showed that the mutated receptor could not activate the IP3 pathway, in contrast to the wild-type receptor, nor could it initiate activation of the Ras/MAP kinase pathway. Thus, the hush puppy mutation in fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 appears to cause a loss of receptor function. The mutant protein appears to have a dominant negative effect, which could be due to it dimerising with the wild-type protein and inhibiting its activity, thus further reducing the levels of functional protein. A dominant modifier, Mhspy, which reduces the effect of the hush puppy mutation on pinna and stapes development, has been mapped to the distal end of chromosome 7 and may show imprinting.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00335-011-9324-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.