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1.  Effects of Housing Density in Five Inbred Strains of Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90012.
To evaluate the effect of increased mouse density in a cage, mice were housed at the density recommended by the 1996 Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and at densities that were approximately 2, 2.6, and 3 times greater. Five strains of mice (129S1/SvImJ, A/J, BALB/cByJ, C57BL/6J, and DBA/2J) were evaluated throughout 3- and 8-month timeframes for health and well-being, including mortality, cardiac measures, plasma cholesterol, body weight, bone mineral density, organ weights, hematology, behavioral observations, and open field and light–dark tests. For 22 of the 27 traits measured, increased housing density had no significant effect. Kidney weight, adrenal weight, and heart rate decreased as mice were housed more densely, and some of the decreases were statistically significant. Reduced kidney weight, adrenal weight, and heart rate are not considered to be negative outcomes and may even indicate reduced stress. However, all measurements of these three traits were within normal physiological ranges. Percent fat increased slightly in strains 129S1/SvImJ, A/J, and DBA/2J, but did not increase in strains BALB/cByJ, and C57BL/6J. These results indicate that mice can be housed at higher densities than those currently recommended.
PMCID: PMC3962340  PMID: 24658028
2.  Chronic Proliferative Dermatitis in Sharpin Null Mice: Development of an Autoinflammatory Disease in the Absence of B and T Lymphocytes and IL4/IL13 Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85666.
SHARPIN is a key regulator of NFKB and integrin signaling. Mice lacking Sharpin develop a phenotype known as chronic proliferative dermatitis (CPDM), typified by progressive epidermal hyperplasia, apoptosis of keratinocytes, cutaneous and systemic eosinophilic inflammation, and hypoplasia of secondary lymphoid organs. Rag1−/− mice, which lack mature B and T cells, were crossed with Sharpin−/− mice to examine the role of lymphocytes in CDPM. Although inflammation in the lungs, liver, and joints was reduced in these double mutant mice, dermatitis was not reduced in the absence of functional lymphocytes, suggesting that lymphocytes are not primary drivers of the inflammation in the skin. Type 2 cytokine expression is increased in CPDM. In an attempt to reduce this aspect of the phenotype, Il4ra−/− mice, unresponsive to both IL4 and IL13, were crossed with Sharpin−/− mice. Double homozygous Sharpin−/−, Il4ra−/− mice developed an exacerbated granulocytic dermatitis, acute system inflammation, as well as hepatic necrosis and mineralization. High expression of CHI3L4, normally seen in CPDM skin, was abolished in Sharpin−/−, Il4ra−/− double mutant mice indicating the crucial role of IL4 and IL13 in the expression of this protein. Cutaneous eosinophilia persisted in Sharpin−/−, Il4ra−/− mice, although expression of Il5 mRNA was reduced and the expression of Ccl11 and Ccl24 was completely abolished. TSLP and IL33 were both increased in the skin of Sharpin−/− mice and this was maintained in Sharpin−/−, Il4ra−/− mice suggesting a role for TSLP and IL33 in the eosinophilic dermatitis in SHARPIN-deficient mice. These studies indicate that cutaneous inflammation in SHARPIN-deficient mice is autoinflammatory in nature developing independently of B and T lymphocytes, while the systemic inflammation seen in CPDM has a strong lymphocyte-dependent component. Both the cutaneous and systemic inflammation is enhanced by loss of IL4 and IL13 signaling indicating that these cytokines normally play an anti-inflammatory role in SHARPIN-deficient mice.
PMCID: PMC3897490  PMID: 24465642
3.  A major X-linked locus affects kidney function in mice 
Molecular genetics and genomics : MGG  2012;287(11-12):845-854.
Chronic kidney disease is a common disease with increasing prevalence in the western population. One common reason for chronic kidney failure is diabetic nephropathy. Diabetic nephropathy and hyperglycemia are characteristics of the mouse inbred strain KK/HlJ, which is predominantly used as a model for metabolic syndrome due to its inherited glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. We used KK/HlJ, an albuminuria-sensitive strain, and C57BL/6J, an albuminuria-resistant strain, to perform a quantitative trait locus (QTL) cross to identify the genetic basis for chronic kidney failure. Albumin-creatinine-ratio (ACR) was measured in 130 F2 male offspring. One significant QTL was identified on chromosome (Chr) X and four suggestive QTLs were found on Chrs 6, 7, 12, and 13. Narrowing of the QTL region was focused on the X-linked QTL and performed by incorporating genotype and expression analyses for genes located in the region. From the 485 genes identified in the X-linked QTL region, a few candidate genes were identified using a combination of bioinformatic evidence based on genomic comparison of the parental strains and known function in urine homeostasis. Finally, this study demonstrates the significance of the X chromosome in the genetic determination of albuminuria.
PMCID: PMC3508201  PMID: 23011808
chronic kidney failure; QTL; genetic cross; ACR; diabetic nephropathy
4.  Subcongenic analyses reveal complex interactions between distal Chromosome 4 genes controlling diabetogenic B cells and CD4 T cells in NOD mice.1 
Autoimmune Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) in humans and NOD mice results from interactions between multiple susceptibility genes (termed Idd) located within and outside the MHC. Despite sharing ~88% of their genome with NOD, including the H2g7 MHC haplotype and other important Idd genes, the closely related NOR strain fails to develop T1D due to resistance alleles in residual genomic regions derived from C57BLKS mice mapping to Chromosomes (Chr.) 1, 2 and 4. We previously produced an NOD background strain developing a greatly decreased T1D incidence due to a NOR-derived 44.31 Mb congenic region on distal Chr. 4 containing disease resistance alleles decreasing the pathogenic activity of autoreactive B and CD4 T cells. In this study a series of subcongenic strains for the NOR-derived Chr. 4 region were utilized to significantly refine genetic loci regulating diabetogenic B and CD4 T cell activity. Analyses of these subcongenic strains revealed the presence of at least two NOR origin T1D resistance genes within this region. A 6.22Mb region between rs13477999 and D4Mit32, not previously known to contain a locus affecting T1D susceptibility and now designated Idd25, was found to contain the main NOR gene(s) dampening diabetogenic B cell activity, with Ephb2 and/or Padi2 being strong candidates as the causal variants. Penetrance of this Idd25 effect was influenced by genes in surrounding regions controlling B cell responsiveness and anergy induction. Conversely, the gene(s) controlling pathogenic CD4 T cell activity was mapped to a more proximal 24.26Mb region between the rs3674285 and D4Mit203 markers.
PMCID: PMC3401322  PMID: 22732593
Rodent; B cells; T cells; Diabetes; Gene Regulation
5.  Deregulated Sex Chromosome Gene Expression with Male Germ Cell-Specific Loss of Dicer1 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46359.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of endogenous, non-coding RNAs that mediate post-transcriptional gene silencing by inhibiting mRNA translation and promoting mRNA decay. DICER1, an RNase III endonuclease encoded by Dicer1, is required for processing short 21–22 nucleotide miRNAs from longer double-stranded RNA precursors. Here, we investigate the loss of Dicer1 in mouse postnatal male germ cells to determine how disruptions in the miRNA biogenesis pathway may contribute to infertility. Reduced levels of Dicer1 transcripts and DICER1 were confirmed in germ cell knock-out (GCKO) testes by postnatal day 18 (P18). Compared to wild-type (WT) at 8 weeks, GCKO males had no change in body weight; yet showed significant reductions in testis mass and sperm number. Histology and fertility tests confirmed spermatogenic failure in GCKO males. Array analyses at P18 showed that in comparison to WT testes, 75% of miRNA genes and 37% of protein coding genes were differentially expressed in GCKO testes. Among these, 96% of miRNA genes were significantly down-regulated, while 4% miRNA genes were overexpressed. Interestingly, we observed preferential overexpression of genes encoded on the sex chromosomes in GCKO testes, including more than 80% of previously identified targets of meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI). Compared to WT, GCKO mice showed higher percentages of germ cells at early meiotic stages (leptotene and zygotene) but lower percentages at later stages (pachytene, diplotene and metaphase I) providing evidence that deletion of Dicer1 leads to disruptions in meiotic progression. Therefore, deleting Dicer1 in early postnatal germ cells resulted in deregulation of transcripts encoded by genes on the sex chromosomes, impaired meiotic progression and led to spermatogenic failure and infertility.
PMCID: PMC3464243  PMID: 23056286
6.  Identification of the Mhc Region as an Asthma Susceptibility Locus in Recombinant Congenic Mice 
Mouse models of allergic asthma are characterized by airway hyperreactivity (AHR), Th2-driven eosinophilic airway inflammation, high allergen-specific IgE (anti-OVA IgE) levels in serum, and airway remodeling. Because asthma susceptibility has a strong genetic component, we aimed to identify new asthma susceptibility genes in the mouse by analyzing the asthma phenotypes of the Leishmania major resistant (lmr) recombinant congenic (RC) strains. The lmr RC strains are derived from C57BL/6 and BALB/c intercrosses and carry congenic loci on chromosome 17 (lmr1) and 9 (lmr2) in both backgrounds. Whereas the lmr2 locus on chromosome 9 contributes to a small background-specific effect on anti-OVA IgE and AHR, the lmr1 locus on chromosome 17 mediates a strong effect on Th2-driven eosinophilic airway inflammation and background-specific effects on anti-OVA IgE and AHR. The lmr1 locus contains almost 600 polymorphic genes. To narrow down this number of candidate genes, we performed genome-wide transcriptional profiling on lung tissue from C.lmr1 RC mice and BALB/c control mice. We identified a small number of differentially expressed genes located within the congenic fragment, including a number of Mhc genes, polymorphic between BALB/c and C57Bl/6. The analysis of asthma phenotypes in the C.B10-H2b RC strain, carrying the C57Bl/6 haplotype of the Mhc locus in a BALB/c genetic background, reveals a strikingly similar asthma phenotype compared with C.lmr1, indicating that the differentially expressed genes located within the C.B10-H2b congenic fragment are the most likely candidate genes to contribute to the reduced asthma phenotypes associated with the C57Bl/6 allele of lmr1.
PMCID: PMC3266060  PMID: 20971879
allergic asthma; quantitative trait locus; recombinant congenic mice; chromosome 17; mouse model
7.  Tubulin Subunits Exist in an Activated Conformational State Generated and Maintained by Protein Cofactors  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1997;138(4):821-832.
The production of native α/β tubulin heterodimer in vitro depends on the action of cytosolic chaperonin and several protein cofactors. We previously showed that four such cofactors (termed A, C, D, and E) together with native tubulin act on β-tubulin folding intermediates generated by the chaperonin to produce polymerizable tubulin heterodimers. However, this set of cofactors generates native heterodimers only very inefficiently from α-tubulin folding intermediates produced by the same chaperonin. Here we describe the isolation, characterization, and genetic analysis of a novel tubulin folding cofactor (cofactor B) that greatly enhances the efficiency of α-tubulin folding in vitro. This enabled an integrated study of α- and β-tubulin folding: we find that the pathways leading to the formation of native α- and β-tubulin converge in that the folding of the α subunit requires the participation of cofactor complexes containing the β subunit and vice versa. We also show that sequestration of native α-or β-tubulins by complex formation with cofactors results in the destabilization and decay of the remaining free subunit. These data demonstrate that tubulin folding cofactors function by placing and/or maintaining α-and β-tubulin polypeptides in an activated conformational state required for the formation of native α/β heterodimers, and imply that each subunit provides information necessary for the proper folding of the other.
PMCID: PMC2138046  PMID: 9265649

Results 1-7 (7)