A Diallel of the Mouse Collaborative Cross Founders Reveals Strong Strain-Specific Maternal Effects on Litter Size.
ABSTRACT: Reproductive success in the eight founder strains of the Collaborative Cross (CC) was measured using a diallel-mating scheme. Over a 48-month period we generated 4,448 litters, and provided 24,782 weaned pups for use in 16 different published experiments. We identified factors that affect the average litter size in a cross by estimating the overall contribution of parent-of-origin, heterosis, inbred, and epistatic effects using a Bayesian zero-truncated overdispersed Poisson mixed model. The phenotypic variance of litter size has a substantial contribution (82%) from unexplained and environmental sources, but no detectable effect of seasonality. Most of the explained variance was due to additive effects (9.2%) and parental sex (maternal vs. paternal strain; 5.8%), with epistasis accounting for 3.4%. Within the parental effects, the effect of the dam's strain explained more than the sire's strain (13.2% vs. 1.8%), and the dam's strain effects account for 74.2% of total variation explained. Dams from strains C57BL/6J and NOD/ShiLtJ increased the expected litter size by a mean of 1.66 and 1.79 pups, whereas dams from strains WSB/EiJ, PWK/PhJ, and CAST/EiJ reduced expected litter size by a mean of 1.51, 0.81, and 0.90 pups. Finally, there was no strong evidence for strain-specific effects on sex ratio distortion. Overall, these results demonstrate that strains vary substantially in their reproductive ability depending on their genetic background, and that litter size is largely determined by dam's strain rather than sire's strain effects, as expected. This analysis adds to our understanding of factors that influence litter size in mammals, and also helps to explain breeding successes and failures in the extinct lines and surviving CC strains.
Project description:The in utero and early postnatal environments play essential roles in offspring growth and development. Standardizing or reducing pup litter size can independently compromise long-term health likely due to altered milk quality, thus limiting translational potential. This study investigated the effect reducing litter size has on milk quality and offspring outcomes. On gestation day 18, dams underwent sham or bilateral uterine vessel ligation surgery to generate dams with normal (Control) and altered (Restricted) milk quality/composition. At birth, pups were cross-fostered onto separate dams with either an unadjusted or reduced litter size. Plasma parathyroid hormone-related protein was increased in Reduced litter pups, whereas ionic calcium and total body calcium were decreased. These data suggest Reduced litter pups have dysregulated calcium homeostasis in early postnatal life, which may impair bone mineralization decreasing adult bone bending strength. Dams suckling Reduced litter pups had increased milk long-chain monounsaturated fatty acid and omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid. Reduced litter pups suckled by Normal milk quality/composition dams had increased milk omega-6 linoleic and arachidonic acids. Reduced litter male adult offspring had elevated blood pressure. This study highlights care must be taken when interpreting data from research that alters litter size as it may mask subtle cardiometabolic health effects.
Project description:Toxoplasmosis remains a world-threatening disease largely because of the lack of a fully effective vaccine. Here, we created a ?GRA17 mutant by disrupting the virulence factor GRA17 using CRISPR-Cas9 method. Then, we tested whether ?GRA17 tachyzoites can be used as a live-attenuated vaccine against acute, chronic, and congenital Toxoplasma gondii infection in mice. Immune response evoked by ?GRA17 immunization suggested a sequential Th1 and Th2 T cell response, indicated by high levels of Th1 and a mixed Th1/Th2 cytokines at 28 and 70?days after immunization, respectively. ?GRA17-mediated immunity fully protected mice against lethal infection with wild-type (wt) RH strain, heterologous challenge with PYS, and TgC7 strains of the Chinese ToxoDB#9 genotype, and T. gondii Pru strain. Although parasite cysts were detected in 8 out of 10 immunized mice, cyst burden in the brain was significantly reduced (P?<?0.05) in immunized mice (53?±?15 cysts/brain) compared to non-immunized mice (4,296?±?687 cysts/brain). In respect to congenital infection, the litter size, survival rate, and body weight (BW) of pups born to ?GRA17-immunized dams were not different compared to pups born to naïve control dams (P?=?0.24). However, a marked reduction in the litter size (P?<?0.001), survival rate, and BW (P?<?0.01) of pups born to non-immunized and infected dams was detected. Also, immunized dams infected with type II Pru strain had significantly (P?<?0.001) less cyst burden in the brain compared with non-immunized and infected dams. These findings show that immunization with ?GRA17 strain evokes cell-mediated and neutralizing antibody responses and confers some degree of protection against challenge with homologous and heterologous virulent T. gondii strains.
Project description:Arsenic (As) exposure is a significant worldwide environmental health concern. Chronic exposure via contaminated drinking water has been associated with an increased incidence of a number of diseases, including reproductive and developmental effects. The goal of this study was to identify adverse outcomes in a mouse model of early life exposure to low-dose drinking water As (10 ppb, current U.S. EPA Maximum Contaminant Level).C57B6/J pups were exposed to 10 ppb As, via the dam in her drinking water, either in utero and/or during the postnatal period. Birth outcomes, the growth of the F1 offspring, and health of the dams were assessed by a variety of measurements. Birth outcomes including litter weight, number of pups, and gestational length were unaffected. However, exposure during the in utero and postnatal period resulted in significant growth deficits in the offspring after birth, which was principally a result of decreased nutrients in the dam's breast milk. Cross-fostering of the pups reversed the growth deficit. Arsenic exposed dams displayed altered liver and breast milk triglyceride levels and serum profiles during pregnancy and lactation. The growth deficits in the F1 offspring resolved following separation from the dam and cessation of exposure in male mice, but did not resolve in female mice up to six weeks of age.Exposure to As at the current U.S. drinking water standard during critical windows of development induces a number of adverse health outcomes for both the dam and offspring. Such effects may contribute to the increased disease risks observed in human populations.
Project description:Fenugreek, a herbal remedy, has long been used as galactologue to help mothers likely to stop breastfeeding because of perceived insufficient milk production. However, few studies highlight the efficacy of fenugreek in enhancing milk production. The aims of our study were to determine whether fenugreek increased milk yield in rodent models of lactation challenge and if so, to verify the lack of adverse effects on dam and offspring metabolism. Two lactation challenges were tested: increased litter size to 12 pups in dams fed a 20% protein diet and perinatal restriction to an 8% protein diet with eight pups' litter, with or without 1 g.kg-1.day-1 dietary supplementation of fenugreek, compared to control dams fed 20% protein diet with eight pups' litters. Milk flow was measured by the deuterium oxide enrichment method, and milk composition was assessed. Lipid and glucose metabolism parameters were assessed in dam and offspring plasmas. Fenugreek increased milk production by 16% in the litter size increase challenge, resulting in an 11% increase in pup growth without deleterious effect on dam-litter metabolism. Fenugreek had no effect in the maternal protein restriction challenge. These results suggest a galactologue effect of fenugreek when mothers have no physiological difficulties in producing milk.
Project description:: In the present study, a dense granule protein 17 (gra17) and novel putative transporter (npt1) double deletion mutant of Toxoplasma gondii RH strain was engineered. The protective efficacy of vaccination using RH?gra17?npt1 tachyzoites against acute, chronic, and congenital toxoplasmosis was studied in a mouse model. Immunization using RH?gra17?npt1 induced a strong humoral and cellular response, as indicated by the increased levels of anti-T. gondii specific IgG, interleukin 2 (IL-2), IL-10, IL-12, and interferon-gamma (IFN-?). Vaccinated mice were protected against a lethal challenge dose (103 tachyzoites) of wild-type homologous (RH) strain and heterologous (PYS and TgC7) strains, as well as against 100 tissue cysts or oocysts of Pru strain. Vaccination also conferred protection against chronic infection with 10 tissue cysts or oocysts of Pru strain, where the numbers of brain cysts in the vaccinated mice were significantly reduced compared to those detected in the control (unvaccinated + infected) mice. In addition, vaccination protected against congenital infection with 10 T. gondii Pru oocysts (administered orally on day 5 of gestation) as shown by the increased litter size, survival rate and the bodyweight of pups born to vaccinated dams compared to those born to unvaccinated + infected dams. The brain cyst burden of vaccinated dams was significantly lower than that of unvaccinated dams infected with oocysts. Our data show that T. gondii RH?gra17?npt1 mutant strain can protect mice against acute, chronic, and congenital toxoplasmosis by balancing inflammatory response with immunogenicity.
Project description:Thyroid dysfunction is a global health concern, causing defects including neurodevelopmental disorders, dwarfism and cardiac arrhythmia. Here, we show that the potassium channel subunits KCNQ1 and KCNE2 form a thyroid-stimulating hormone-stimulated, constitutively active, thyrocyte K+ channel required for normal thyroid hormone biosynthesis. Targeted disruption of Kcne2 in mice impaired thyroid iodide accumulation up to eightfold, impaired maternal milk ejection, halved milk tetraiodothyronine (T4) content and halved litter size. Kcne2-deficient mice had hypothyroidism, dwarfism, alopecia, goiter and cardiac abnormalities including hypertrophy, fibrosis, and reduced fractional shortening. The alopecia, dwarfism and cardiac abnormalities were alleviated by triiodothyronine (T3) and T4 administration to pups, by supplementing dams with T(4) before and after they gave birth or by feeding the pups exclusively from Kcne2+/+ dams; conversely, these symptoms were elicited in Kcne2+/+ pups by feeding exclusively from Kcne2-/- dams. These data provide a new potential therapeutic target for thyroid disorders and raise the possibility of an endocrine component to previously identified KCNE2- and KCNQ1-linked human cardiac arrhythmias.
Project description:Significant variation exists for maternal nurturing ability in inbred mice. Although classical mapping approaches have identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) that may account for this variation, the underlying genes are unknown. In this study, lactation performance data among the mouse diversity panel were used to map genomic regions associated with this variation. Females from each of 32 inbred strains (n = 8-19 dams/strain) were studied during the first 8 days of lactation by allowing them to raise weight- and size-normalized cross-foster litters (10 pups/litter). Average daily weight gain (ADG) of litters served as the primary indicator of milk production. The number of pups successfully reared to 8 days (PNUM8) also served as a related indicator of maternal performance. Initial haplotype association analysis using a Bonferroni-corrected, genome-wide threshold revealed 10 and 15 associations encompassing 11 and 13 genes for ADG and PNUM8, respectively. The most significant of these associated haplotype blocks were found on MMU 8, 11, and 19 and contained the genes Nr3c2, Egfr, Sec61g, and Gnaq. Lastly, two haplotype blocks on MMU9 were detected in association with PNUM8. These overlapped with the previously described maternal performance QTL, Neogq1. These results suggest that the application of in silico QTL mapping is a useful tool in discovering the presence of novel candidate genes involved in determining lactation capacity in mice.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Prior work concerning maternal perception of the food environment suggests that perceived disparities in food resources resulted in reduced pup mass and dam reproductive success. This study attempted to replicate this result with increased sample size and additional measures. METHODS:Female C57BL/6J mice (n?=?160; 3 weeks old) were randomly assigned to either subject or peer and were pair housed in partitioned cages with olfactory and visual contact. After a 6-week maturation period on an energy-rich cafeteria diet, cages were randomly assigned to Control (subject and peer fed pelleted diet) or Treatment (subject fed pellets, peer fed cafeteria diet), and subjects were bred. After weaning, one pup from each sex per litter was reared to 5 months. RESULTS:Treatment did not affect the number of births, pup size at birth, or the proportion of pups surviving to weaning (P?>?0.09). Treatment did not affect dam body or fat mass at parturition (P?>?0.22), but these measures were higher in some Treatment dams at weaning (P?<?0.05). Smaller female pups were weaned from Treatment dams pregnant on the first breeding attempt (P?=?0.01), but no other pup effects were observed (P?>?0.07). CONCLUSIONS:Exposure to food-environment disparity in this study did not replicate previous findings or affect pup growth after weaning.
Project description:High and variable pre-weaning mortality is a persistent problem in laboratory mouse breeding. Assuming a modest 15% mortality rate across mouse strains, means that approximately 1 million more pups are produced yearly in the EU to compensate for those which die. This paper presents the first large study under practical husbandry conditions to determine the risk factors associated with mouse pre-weaning mortality. We analysed historical records from 219,975 pups from two breeding facilities, collected as part of their management routine and including information on number of pups born and weaned per litter, parents' age and identification, and dates of birth and death of all animals. Pups were counted once in their first week of life and at weaning, and once every one or two weeks, depending on the need for cage cleaning. Dead pups were recorded as soon as these were found during the daily cage screening (without opening the cage). It was hypothesized that litter overlap (i.e. the presence of older siblings in the cage when new pups are born), a recurrent social configuration in trio-housed mice, is associated with increased newborn mortality, along with advanced dam age, large litter size, and a high number and age of older siblings in the cage. The estimated probability of pup death was two to seven percentage points higher in cages with litter overlap compared to those without. Litter overlap was associated with an increase in death of the entire litter of five and six percentage points, which represent an increase of 19% and 103% compared to non-overlapped litters in the two breeding facilities, respectively. Increased number and age of older siblings, advanced dam age, small litter size (less than four pups born) and large litter size (over 11 pups born) were associated with increased probability of pup death.
Project description:Assessment of milk production is of utmost relevance for pediatricians and scientists interested in early life nutrition. The weight-suckle-weight (WSW) method, which consists of weighing babies before and after they suckle their mother, uses the difference in body weight as an estimate of milk intake. However, this is prone to many sources of error. In the current study, we used for the first time the water turnover method and compartmental analysis with deuterated water (D2O) as a non-toxic tracer to quantify in vivo milk production in a rat model. We assessed the effect of a nutritional intervention presumed to affect milk production, a maternal dietary protein restriction during gestation and lactation, which results in the birth of pups with intrauterine growth restriction. The specific aim of this study was to determine milk production with the body water turnover method in rat dams receiving during gestation and lactation, either a control diet (NP) or an iso-caloric low-protein diet (LP). In NP dams, mass of dam's total body water, output flow constant from dam to litter (K21) and median milk flow, calculated between days 11 to 14 after pup birth, were 282.1 g, 0.0122 h-1 and 3.30 g/h for NP dams, respectively. Maternal dietary protein restriction (-59%) during perinatal period led to a 34% reduction in milk flow (NP versus LP). With the WSW method, milk flow varied from 1.96 g/h to 2.37 g/h between days 11 to 14 for NP dams. The main advantage of the D20 method compared to the WSW method stems from its higher precision, as attested by the narrowest range of measured values of milk flow ([2.90; 3.75] and [0.98; 6.85] g/h, respectively) for NP group. This method could be suitable for testing the effectiveness of candidate galactologue molecules presumed to enhance milk production in the lactating rat model.