Research Highlights

Novel Neuroprotective Loci Modulating Ischemic Stroke Volume in Wild-Derived Inbred Mouse Strains


Han Kyu Lee, Samuel J. Widmayer, Min-Nung Huang, David L. Aylor and Douglas A. Marchuk

GENETICS 213:2 (October 2019).

To identify genes involved in cerebral infarction we have employed a forward genetic approach in inbred mouse strains, using quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping for cerebral infarct volume after middle cerebral artery occlusion. We had previously observed that infarct volume is inversely correlated with cerebral collateral vessel density in most strains. In this study, we expanded the pool of allelic variation among classical inbred mouse strains by utilizing the eight founder strains of the Collaborative Cross and found a wild-derived strain, WSB/EiJ, that breaks this general rule that collateral vessel density inversely correlates with infarct volume. WSB/EiJ and another wild-derived strain, CAST/EiJ, show the highest collateral vessel densities of any inbred strain, but infarct volume of WSB/EiJ mice is 8.7-fold larger than that of CAST/EiJ mice. QTL mapping between these strains identified four new neuroprotective loci modulating cerebral infarct volume while not affecting collateral vessel phenotypes. To identify causative variants in genes we surveyed non-synonymous coding SNPs between CAST/EiJ and WSB/EiJ and found 96 genes harboring coding SNPs predicted to be damaging and mapping within one of the four intervals. In addition, we performed RNA sequencing for brain tissue of CAST/EiJ and WSB/EiJ mice and identified 79 candidate genes mapping in one of the four intervals showing strain-specific differences in expression. The identification of the genes underlying these neuroprotective loci will provide new understanding of genetic risk factors of ischemic stroke which may provide novel targets for future therapeutic intervention of human ischemic stroke.