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Genetic influences on oestrous cyclicity in mice: evidence that cycle length and frequency are differentially regulated.

Nelson JF, Karelus K, Felicio LS, Johnson TE

Department of Physiology, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio 78284-7756.

Studies in C57BL/6J, DBA/2J and C3H/HeJ mice and in two F1 hybrid strains (B6D2F1 and B6C3HF1) 2-5 months old revealed marked genotypic differences among inbred strains. C57 mice had three times as many regular (3-6 days) cycles as DBA and C3H mice, due largely to fewer pseudopregnant-like (7-14 day) cycles. C57 had longer regular cycles than DBA and C3H mice. Although the frequencies of regular cycles of DBA and C3H mice were similar, the cycles of C3H mice were shorter than those of DBA mice. The results indicated that the genetic determinants of the frequency of regular cycles differ from those specifying cycle length. Frequency of regular cycles of F1 hybrids was either intermediate between the parent strains (B6D2F1) or similar to the C57 strain (B6C3HF1), suggesting that regular cycle frequency shows additive genetic variation in the former crosses, but mostly dominant variance in the latter background. Regular cycles were either shorter than in both parent strains (B6D2F1) or similar to one of them (B6C3HF1), indicating heterosis and dominance for genes specifying short cycles. Although the lack of reciprocal crosses meant that maternal effects and possible genomic imprinting effects could not be assessed, these results reveal marked genetic influences on cycle length and frequency and suggest that some of the genes specifying these two traits differ.