Proteoglycan (PG)-induced arthritis (PGIA) is a murine model of rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis-prone BALB/c mice are 100% susceptible, whereas the major histocompatibility complex-matched DBA/2 strain is completely resistant to PGIA. To reduce the size of the disease-suppressive loci for sequencing and to find causative genes of arthritis, we created a set of BALB/c.DBA/2-congenic/ subcongenic strains carrying DBA/2 genomic intervals overlapping the entire Pgia26 locus on chromosome 3 (chr3) and Pgia23/Pgia12 loci on chr19 in the arthritis-susceptible BALB/c background. Upon immunization of these subcongenic strains and their wild-type (BALB/c) littermates, we identified a major Pgia26a sublocus on chr3 that suppressed disease onset, incidence and severity via controlling the complex trait of T-cell responses. The region was reduced to 3 Mbp (11.8 Mbp with flanking regions) in size and contained gene(s) influencing the production of a number of proinflammatory cytokines. Additionally, two independent loci (Pgia26b and Pgia26c) suppressed the clinical scores of arthritis. The Pgia23 locus (∼ 3 Mbp in size) on chr19 reduced arthritis susceptibility and onset, and the Pgia12 locus (6 Mbp) associated with low arthritis severity. Thus, we have reached the critical sizes of arthritis-associated genomic loci on mouse chr3 and chr19, which are ready for high-throughput sequencing of genomic DNA.
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