Distinct genetic regions modify specific muscle groups in muscular dystrophy

Kayleigh A. Swaggart, Ahlke Heydemann, Abraham A. Palmer, Elizabeth M. McNally

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Phenotypic expression in the muscular dystrophies is variable, even with the identical mutation, providing strong evidence that genetic modifiers influence outcome. To identify genetic modifier loci, we used quantitative trait locus mapping in two differentially affected mouse strains with muscular dystrophy. Using the Sgcg model of limb girdle muscular dystrophy that lacks the dystrophin-associated protein γ-sarcoglycan, we evaluated chromosomal regions that segregated with two distinct quantifiable characteristics of muscular dystrophy, membrane permeability and fibrosis. We previously identified a single major locus on murine chromosome 7 that influences both traits of membrane permeability and fibrosis in the quadriceps muscle. Using a larger cohort, we now found that this same interval strongly associated with both traits in all limb skeletal muscle groups studied, including the gastrocnemius/soleus, gluteus/hamstring, and triceps muscles. In contrast, the muscles of the trunk were modified by distinct genetic loci, possibly reflecting the embryological origins and physiological stressors unique to these muscle groups. A locus on chromosome 18 was identified that modified membrane permeability of the abdominal muscles, and a locus on chromosome 3 was found that regulated diaphragm and abdominal muscle fibrosis. Fibrosis in the heart associated with a region on chromosome 9 and likely reflects differential function between cardiac and skeletal muscle. These data underscore the complexity of inheritance and penetrance of single-gene disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-31
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiological genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2011


  • Fibrosis
  • Genetic modifiers
  • Heart
  • Quantitative trait locus
  • Skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics

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