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Quantitative Genetics of Transgenic Mice: Components of Phenotypic Variation in Body Weights and Weight Gains

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Abstract

Transgenic mice possessing an ovine growth hormone gene were used to study the effects of elevated growth hormone on quantitative genetic variation. Males hemizygous for the transgene were mated to wild-type females to produce half- and full-sib families in which approximately half the progeny were transgenic and half were wild type. Analyses of body weights at 3-10 weeks, and weight gains from 3 to 6, and 6 to 10 weeks produced estimates of the proportion of total variance due to additive genetic effects (h(2)) and common litter effects (c(2)), and the genetic correlation between transgenic and wild-type expression of each trait. At 10 weeks, body weight of transgenics exceeded that of wild types by 26 and 49% in males and females, respectively. Estimated genetic variances in the transgenic group were significantly greater than zero for body weights at most ages and for both measurements of gain. Common litter effects accounted for a similar proportion of variation in the wild-type and transgenic groups. Additive genetic correlations between wild-type and transgenic expression of body weights tended to decline with age, indicating that a partially different array of genes may have begun to affect body weight in the transgenic group.

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