The little (lit) autosomal recessive mutation in the mouse causes dwarfism due to isolated growth hormone deficiency. The in vitro physiology of pituitary growth hormone release in lit/lit animals suggests that an abnormality in the growth hormone releasing factor (GRF) receptor (Ghrfr) is a very likely candidate for the lit mutation. We mapped Ghrfr to the region around lit on Chromosome (Chr) 6 in 100 chromosomes of an FVB x Czech II interspecific backcross. Molecular markers were Neuropeptide Y (Npy), homeobox (Hoxa2), immunoglobulin kappa chain (Igk), wingless-related MMTV integration site (Wnt-2), cystic fibrosis (Cftr), carboxypeptidase A (Cpa), and Ghrfr. Map order and distances were as follows: Cen-//-Wnt-2-(0 cM)-Cftr-(6.0 cM)-Cpa-(8.0 cM)-Npy-(1.0 cM)-Hoxa2-(3.0 cM)-Ghrfr-(2.0 cM)-Igk. We mapped lit (by phenotype) relative to Hoxa2 and Igk on 72 F2 chromosomes of offspring of a B6CZ lit/ + x B6FVB lit/ + intercross and 18 chromosomes of offspring of a B6FVB lit/ + intercross. Map order and distances were as follows: Hoxa2-(2.1 cM)-lit/Ghrfr-(3.7 cM)-Igk. No recombinations between lit and Ghrfr were detected. Thus, Ghrfr maps to mouse Chr 6 and may be allelic with lit. Amplification of a short segment at the 3′ end of the Ghrfr mRNA by reverse transcription coupled to the polymerase chain reaction showed a greatly diminished level of GRF receptor mRNA in the pituitaries of lit/lit mice as compared with lit/ + controls. Low level of message could reflect a primary molecular defect or be due to secondary hypoplasia of somatotropes. These genetic and molecular data suggest that the Ghrfr gene is mutated in the lit mouse.
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