Excessive alcohol (ethanol) consumption is the hallmark of alcohol use disorders. The F1 hybrid cross between the C57BL/6J (B6) and FVB/NJ (FVB) inbred mouse strains consumes more ethanol than either progenitor strain. The purpose of this study was to utilize ethanol-drinking data and genetic information to map genes that result in overdominant (or heterotic) ethanol drinking. About 600 B6 × FVB F2 mice, half of each sex, were tested for ethanol intake and preference in a 24-h, two-bottle water versus ethanol choice procedure, with ascending ethanol concentrations. They were then tested for ethanol intake in a Drinking in the Dark (DID) procedure, first when there was no water choice and then when ethanol was offered versus water. DNA samples were obtained and genome-wide QTL analyses were performed to search for single QTLs (both additive and dominance effects) and interactions between pairs of QTLs, or epistasis. On average, F2 mice consumed excessive amounts of ethanol in the 24-h choice procedure, consistent with high levels of consumption seen in the F1 cross. Consumption in the DID procedure was similar or higher than amounts reported previously for the B6 progenitor. QTLs resulting in heightened consumption in heterozygous compared to homozygous animals were found on Chrs 11, 15, and 16 for 24-h choice 30% ethanol consumption, and on Chr 11 for DID. No evidence was found for epistasis between any pair of significant or suggestive QTLs. This indicates that the hybrid overdominance is due to intralocus interactions at the level of individual QTL.
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