Levels of radiation-induced apoptosis of thymocytes were compared in C57BL/6J and C3Hf/Kam mice. For up to 8 h after irradiation, levels of apoptosis were higher in the C57BL/6J strain for all doses assayed. The heritability of the strain difference in the extent of apoptosis resulting from irradiation was investigated using a breeding study. Analysis of the F1 and F2 intercross progeny of these two strains provided strong evidence for a maternal effect but little evidence of sex linkage. The results indicate that in this strain combination the level of apoptosis of thymocytes after irradiation is a heritable trait that is likely to be controlled by few genes. These genes should be detectable in a mapping study.

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