Fanny Odet * , Wenqi Pan * , Timothy A. Bell † , ‡ , § , Summer G. Goodson * , Alicia M. Stevans * , Zianing Yun † , David L. Aylor ** , Chia-Yu Kao †† , Leonard McMillan †† , Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena † , ‡ , § , 2 , Deborah A. O’Brien * , ‡ , 2
13 October 2015
Surveys of inbred strains of mice are standard approaches to determine the heritability and range of phenotypic variation for biomedical traits. In addition, they may lead to the identification of novel phenotypes and models of human disease. Surprisingly, male reproductive phenotypes are among the least-represented traits in the Mouse Phenome Database. Here we report the results of a broad survey of the eight founder inbred strains of both the Collaborative Cross (CC) and the Diversity Outbred populations, two new mouse resources that are being used as platforms for systems genetics and sources of mouse models of human diseases. Our survey includes representatives of the three main subspecies of the house mice and a mix of classical and wild-derived inbred strains. In addition to standard staples of male reproductive phenotyping such as reproductive organ weights, sperm counts, and sperm morphology, our survey includes sperm motility and the first detailed survey of testis histology. As expected for such a broad survey, heritability varies widely among traits. We conclude that although all eight inbred strains are fertile, most display a mix of advantageous and deleterious male reproductive traits. The CAST/EiJ strain is an outlier, with an unusual combination of deleterious male reproductive traits including low sperm counts, high levels of morphologically abnormal sperm, and poor motility. In contrast, sperm from the PWK/PhJ and WSB/EiJ strains had the greatest percentages of normal morphology and vigorous motility. Finally, we report an abnormal testis phenotype that is highly heritable and restricted to the WSB/EiJ strain. This phenotype is characterized by the presence of a large, but variable, number of vacuoles in at least 10% of the seminiferous tubules. The onset of the phenotype between 2 and 3 wk of age is temporally correlated with the formation of the blood-testis barrier. We speculate that this phenotype may play a role in high rates of extinction in the CC project and in the phenotypes associated with speciation in genetic crosses that use the WSB/EiJ strain as representative of the Mus muculus domesticus subspecies.