Genomewide search for epistasis in a complex trait: Pentobarbital withdrawal convulsions in mice

Heather M. Hood, John K. Belknap, John C. Crabbe, Kari J. Buck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The well-documented difference in pentobarbital withdrawal severity between DBA/2J and C57BL/6J mice offers the opportunity to study how differences between allelic variants influence pentobarbital withdrawal via their additive and/or dominance effects and to identify modifier loci that also influence the trait via gene-gene interactions (a form of epistasis). Previous work in our laboratory identified seven provisional quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for pentobarbital withdrawal using BXD recombinant inbred strains. To date, only one of these QTLs has been confirmed, Pbwl. We hypothesized that other loci that act epistatically may also influence genetic variance in pentobarbital withdrawal severity. Using Epistat, a program developed to carry out full-genome searches for epistasis, we identified six provisional epistatic interactions (p < .002) between the provisional QTLs and modifier loci elsewhere in the genome. Verification testing of these interactions using 404 B6D2F2 mice provided supporting evidence that a QTL on chromosome 11 contributes to genetic variance in pentobarbital withdrawal, but only in the presence of a modifier allele on distal chromosome 1 (p = .0004). This modifier is in the same genomic vicinity as loci detected for a variety of withdrawal and seizure phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-100
Number of pages8
JournalBehavior genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • B6D2 F intercross
  • BXD
  • C57BL/6
  • DBA/2
  • Epistasis
  • Gene interaction
  • Genetic mapping
  • Pentobarbital withdrawal
  • Recombinant inbred strains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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