FXR and ABCGs/ABCG8 as determinants of cholesterol gallstone formation from quantitative trait locus mapping in mice

Henning Wittenburg, Malcolm A. Lyons, Renhua Li, Gary A. Churchill, Martin C. Carey, Beverly Paigen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Cholesterol gallstone formation is a complex genetic trait. To identify additional cholesterol gallstone susceptibility loci, we performed a quantitative trait locus analysis using an intercross of PERA/ Ei and I/LnJ inbred strains of mice. Methods: Mice of both sexes were examined for gallstone weight and evaluated according to a scoring system for the physical chemistry of cholelithiasis during feeding of a lithogenic diet. Intercross offspring were genotyped, and linkage analysis was performed by interval mapping. Differences in messenger RNA expression of positional candidate genes were determined using reverse-transcription and real-time polymerase chain reaction. Results: We identified significant loci associated with gallstone weight on chromosomes 10 and 4, named Lith7 and Lith8, respectively (both susceptibility alleles conferred by strain I/LnJ). Positional candidate genes with higher expression in I/LnJ mice are Fxr (official symbol, Nrlh4), encoding the nuclear bile salt receptor, on chromosome 10 and Shpl (official symbol, NrOb2), encoding the small heterodimer partner 1, on chromosome 4. A significant locus associated with gallstone score on chromosome 17, named Lith9 (susceptibility allele conferred by strain PERA/Ei), colocalizes with the genes Abcg5 and Abcg8 that encode the canalicular cholesterol transporter. Higher hepatic messenger RNA expression of Abcg5 and Abcg8 in strain PERA/Ei correlates positively with higher biliary cholesterol levels. Conclusions: Our findings suggest a primary role of the nuclear bile salt receptor FXR and the canalicular cholesterol transporter ABCG5/ABCG8 in the genetic susceptibility and pathogenesis of cholesterol cholelithiasis in these strains of inbred mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)868-881
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


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