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Biol Reprod 1990 Apr;42(4):649-655

Genetic influences on the timing of puberty in mice.

Nelson JF, Karelus K, Felicio LS, Johnson TE

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Genetic influences on the timing of three pubertal events--vaginal opening, first vaginal cornification, and onset of cyclicity--were studied in C57BL/6J, DBA/2J, and C3H/HeJ mice and in two F1 hybrid strains (B6D2F1 and B6C3HF1). Marked genotypic differences were found. Among inbred strains, differences in the onset of vaginal opening and first vaginal cornification (C3H less than DBA less than C57) did not parallel those for the onset of cyclicity (C3H much greater than DBA = C57). Compared to parental strains, F1 hybrid strains were intermediate for times of vaginal opening and first vaginal cornification, consistent with the model in which the genetic effects on the timing of these events are additive. By contrast, onset of cyclicity occurred significantly earlier in the F1 hybrids than in their parent strains, indicating heterosis for one or more genes specifying this event. Body weights also differed among the genotypes from weaning onward, but these differences were only partially correlated with the differences in the timing of the pubertal events. Thus, genetic influences other than those affecting body weight contribute to the differential timing of pubertal events in these mouse strains. These results reveal marked genetic variation in the timing of puberty, and indicate that the set of genes specifying the timing of vaginal opening and first vaginal cornification differs from those specifying the onset of cyclicity.