Copy number variation (CNV) has been associated increasingly with altered susceptibility to human disease. Large CNVs are likely to incur disease risk or resilience via predictable changes in gene dosage that are relatively straightforward to model using chromosomal engineering in mice. The classical class I major histocompatibility locus (MHC-I) contains a dense set of genes essential for innate immune system function in vertebrates. MHC-I genes are highly polymorphic and genetic variation in the region is associated with altered susceptibility to a wide variety of common diseases. Here we investigated the role of gene dosage within MHC-I on susceptibility to disease by engineering a mouse line carrying a 1.9-Mb duplication of this region [called Dp(MHC-I)]. Extensive phenotypic analysis of heterozygous (3N) Dp(MHC-I) animals did not reveal altered blood and stem cell parameters, susceptibility to high-fat diet, death by cancer, or contact dermatitis. However, several measures of disease severity in a model of atherosclerosis were improved, suggesting dosage-sensitive modulators of cardiovascular disease. Homozygous Dp(MHC-I)/Dp(MHC-I) mice demonstrated embryonic lethality. These mice serve as a model for studying the consequences of targeted gene dosage alteration in MHC-I with functional and evolutionary implications.
Mammalian Genome – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 7, 2012
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