Genetical toxicogenomics in Drosophila identifies master-modulatory loci that are regulated by developmental exposure to lead.
ABSTRACT: The genetics of gene expression in recombinant inbred lines (RILs) can be mapped as expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs). So-called "genetical genomics" studies have identified locally acting eQTLs (cis-eQTLs) for genes that show differences in steady-state RNA levels. These studies have also identified distantly acting master-modulatory trans-eQTLs that regulate tens or hundreds of transcripts (hotspots or transbands). We expand on these studies by performing genetical genomics experiments in two environments in order to identify trans-eQTL that might be regulated by developmental exposure to the neurotoxin lead. Flies from each of 75 RIL were raised from eggs to adults on either control food (made with 250 microM sodium acetate), or lead-treated food (made with 250 microM lead acetate, PbAc). RNA expression analyses of whole adult male flies (5-10 days old) were performed with Affymetrix DrosII whole genome arrays (18,952 probesets). Among the 1389 genes with cis-eQTL, there were 405 genes unique to control flies and 544 genes unique to lead-treated ones (440 genes had the same cis-eQTLs in both samples). There are 2396 genes with trans-eQTL which mapped to 12 major transbands with greater than 95 genes. Permutation analyses of the strain labels but not the expression data suggests that the total number of eQTL and the number of transbands are more important criteria for validation than the size of the transband. Two transbands, one located on the 2nd chromosome and one on the 3rd chromosome, co-regulate 33 lead-induced genes, many of which are involved in neurodevelopmental processes. For these 33 genes, rather than allelic variation at one locus exerting differential effects in two environments, we found that variation at two different loci are required for optimal effects on lead-induced expression.
Project description:Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) represent genetic control points of gene expression, and can be categorized as cis- and trans-acting, reflecting local and distant regulation of gene expression respectively. Although there is evidence of co-regulation within clusters of trans-eQTLs, the extent of co-expression patterns and their relationship with the genotypes at eQTLs are not fully understood. We have mapped thousands of cis- and trans-eQTLs in four tissues (fat, kidney, adrenal and left ventricle) in a large panel of rat recombinant inbred (RI) strains. Here we investigate the genome-wide correlation structure in expression levels of eQTL transcripts and underlying genotypes to elucidate the nature of co-regulation within cis- and trans-eQTL datasets. Across the four tissues, we consistently found statistically significant correlations of cis-regulated gene expression to be rare (<0.9% of all pairs tested). Most (>80%) of the observed significant correlations of cis-regulated gene expression are explained by correlation of the underlying genotypes. In comparison, co-expression of trans-regulated gene expression is more common, with significant correlation ranging from 2.9%-14.9% of all pairs of trans-eQTL transcripts. We observed a total of 81 trans-eQTL clusters (hot-spots), defined as consisting of > or =10 eQTLs linked to a common region, with very high levels of correlation between trans-regulated transcripts (77.2-90.2%). Moreover, functional analysis of large trans-eQTL clusters (> or =30 eQTLs) revealed significant functional enrichment among genes comprising 80% of the large clusters. The results of this genome-wide co-expression study show the effects of the eQTL genotypes on the observed patterns of correlation, and suggest that functional relatedness between genes underlying trans-eQTLs is reflected in the degree of co-expression observed in trans-eQTL clusters. Our results demonstrate the power of an integrative, systematic approach to the analysis of a large gene expression dataset to uncover underlying structure, and inform future eQTL studies.
Project description:A large fraction of human genes are regulated by genetic variation near the transcribed sequence (cis-eQTL, expression quantitative trait locus), and many cis-eQTLs have implications for human disease. Less is known regarding the effects of genetic variation on expression of distant genes (trans-eQTLs) and their biological mechanisms. In this work, we use genome-wide data on SNPs and array-based expression measures from mononuclear cells obtained from a population-based cohort of 1,799 Bangladeshi individuals to characterize cis- and trans-eQTLs and determine if observed trans-eQTL associations are mediated by expression of transcripts in cis with the SNPs showing trans-association, using Sobel tests of mediation. We observed 434 independent trans-eQTL associations at a false-discovery rate of 0.05, and 189 of these trans-eQTLs were also cis-eQTLs (enrichment P<0.0001). Among these 189 trans-eQTL associations, 39 were significantly attenuated after adjusting for a cis-mediator based on Sobel P<10-5. We attempted to replicate 21 of these mediation signals in two European cohorts, and while only 7 trans-eQTL associations were present in one or both cohorts, 6 showed evidence of cis-mediation. Analyses of simulated data show that complete mediation will be observed as partial mediation in the presence of mediator measurement error or imperfect LD between measured and causal variants. Our data demonstrates that trans-associations can become significantly stronger or switch directions after adjusting for a potential mediator. Using simulated data, we demonstrate that this phenomenon is expected in the presence of strong cis-trans confounding and when the measured cis-transcript is correlated with the true (unmeasured) mediator. In conclusion, by applying mediation analysis to eQTL data, we show that a substantial fraction of observed trans-eQTL associations can be explained by cis-mediation. Future studies should focus on understanding the mechanisms underlying widespread cis-mediation and their relevance to disease biology, as well as using mediation analysis to improve eQTL discovery.
Project description:Gene expression is a heritable cellular phenotype that defines the function of a cell and can lead to diseases in case of misregulation. In order to detect genetic variations affecting gene expression, we performed association analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and copy number variants (CNVs) with gene expression measured in 869 lymphoblastoid cell lines of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) cohort in cis and in trans. We discovered that 3,534 genes (false discovery rate (FDR)?=?5%) are affected by an expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) in cis and 48 genes are affected in trans. We observed that CNVs are more likely to be eQTLs than SNPs. In addition, we found that variants associated to complex traits and diseases are enriched for trans-eQTLs and that trans-eQTLs are enriched for cis-eQTLs. As a variant affecting both a gene in cis and in trans suggests that the cis gene is functionally linked to the trans gene expression, we looked specifically for trans effects of cis-eQTLs. We discovered that 26 cis-eQTLs are associated to 92 genes in trans with the cis-eQTLs of the transcriptions factors BATF3 and HMX2 affecting the most genes. We then explored if the variation of the level of expression of the cis genes were causally affecting the level of expression of the trans genes and discovered several causal relationships between variation in the level of expression of the cis gene and variation of the level of expression of the trans gene. This analysis shows that a large sample size allows the discovery of secondary effects of human variations on gene expression that can be used to construct short directed gene regulatory networks.
Project description:The simplest definition of cis-eQTLs versus trans, refers to genetic variants that affect expression in an allele specific manner, with implications on underlying mechanism. Yet, due to technical limitations of expression microarrays, the vast majority of eQTL studies performed in the last decade used a genomic distance based definition as a surrogate for cis, therefore exploring local rather than cis-eQTLs.In this study we use RNAseq to explore allele specific expression (ASE) in adipose tissue of male and female F1 mice, produced from reciprocal crosses of C57BL/6J and DBA/2J strains. Comparison of the identified cis-eQTLs, to local-eQTLs, that were obtained from adipose tissue expression in two previous population based studies in our laboratory, yields poor overlap between the two mapping approaches, while both local-eQTL studies show highly concordant results. Specifically, local-eQTL studies show ~60% overlap between themselves, while only 15-20% of local-eQTLs are identified as cis by ASE, and less than 50% of ASE genes are recovered in local-eQTL studies. Utilizing recently published ENCODE data, we also find that ASE genes show significant bias for SNPs prevalence in DNase I hypersensitive sites that is ASE direction specific.We suggest a new approach to analysis of allele specific expression that is more sensitive and accurate than the commonly used fisher or chi-square statistics. Our analysis indicates that technical differences between the cis and local-eQTL approaches, such as differences in genomic background or sex specificity, account for relatively small fraction of the discrepancy. Therefore, we suggest that the differences between two eQTL mapping approaches may facilitate sorting of SNP-eQTL interactions into true cis and trans, and that a considerable portion of local-eQTL may actually represent trans interactions.
Project description:Many investigations have reported the successful mapping of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for gene expression phenotypes (eQTLs). Local eQTLs, where expression phenotypes map to the genes themselves, are of especially great interest, because they are direct candidates for previously mapped physiological QTLs. Here we show that many mapped local eQTLs in genetical genomics experiments do not reflect actual expression differences caused by sequence polymorphisms in cis-acting factors changing mRNA levels. Instead they indicate hybridization differences caused by sequence polymorphisms in the mRNA region that is targeted by the microarray probes. Many such polymorphisms can be detected by a sensitive and novel statistical approach that takes the individual probe signals into account. Applying this approach to recent mouse and human eQTL data, we demonstrate that indeed many local eQTLs are falsely reported as "cis-acting" or "cis" and can be successfully detected and eliminated with this approach.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with gene expression levels, known as expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs), may improve understanding of the functional role of phenotype-associated SNPs in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The small sample sizes of some previous eQTL studies have limited their statistical power. We conducted an eQTL investigation of microarray-based gene and exon expression levels in whole blood in a cohort of 5257 individuals, exceeding the single cohort size of previous studies by more than a factor of 2. RESULTS:We detected over 19,000 independent lead cis-eQTLs and over 6000 independent lead trans-eQTLs, targeting over 10,000 gene targets (eGenes), with a false discovery rate (FDR)?<?5%. Of previously published significant GWAS SNPs, 48% are identified to be significant eQTLs in our study. Some trans-eQTLs point toward novel mechanistic explanations for the association of the SNP with the GWAS-related phenotype. We also identify 59 distinct blocks or clusters of trans-eQTLs, each targeting the expression of sets of six to 229 distinct trans-eGenes. Ten of these sets of target genes are significantly enriched for microRNA targets (FDR?<?5%). Many of these clusters are associated in GWAS with multiple phenotypes. CONCLUSIONS:These findings provide insights into the molecular regulatory patterns involved in human physiology and pathophysiology. We illustrate the value of our eQTL database in the context of a recent GWAS meta-analysis of coronary artery disease and provide a list of targeted eGenes for 21 of 58 GWAS loci.
Project description:One major expectation from the transcriptome in humans is to characterize the biological basis of associations identified by genome-wide association studies. So far, few cis expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) have been reliably related to disease susceptibility. Trans-regulating mechanisms may play a more prominent role in disease susceptibility. We analyzed 12,808 genes detected in at least 5% of circulating monocyte samples from a population-based sample of 1,490 European unrelated subjects. We applied a method of extraction of expression patterns-independent component analysis-to identify sets of co-regulated genes. These patterns were then related to 675,350 SNPs to identify major trans-acting regulators. We detected three genomic regions significantly associated with co-regulated gene modules. Association of these loci with multiple expression traits was replicated in Cardiogenics, an independent study in which expression profiles of monocytes were available in 758 subjects. The locus 12q13 (lead SNP rs11171739), previously identified as a type 1 diabetes locus, was associated with a pattern including two cis eQTLs, RPS26 and SUOX, and 5 trans eQTLs, one of which (MADCAM1) is a potential candidate for mediating T1D susceptibility. The locus 12q24 (lead SNP rs653178), which has demonstrated extensive disease pleiotropy, including type 1 diabetes, hypertension, and celiac disease, was associated to a pattern strongly correlating to blood pressure level. The strongest trans eQTL in this pattern was CRIP1, a known marker of cellular proliferation in cancer. The locus 12q15 (lead SNP rs11177644) was associated with a pattern driven by two cis eQTLs, LYZ and YEATS4, and including 34 trans eQTLs, several of them tumor-related genes. This study shows that a method exploiting the structure of co-expressions among genes can help identify genomic regions involved in trans regulation of sets of genes and can provide clues for understanding the mechanisms linking genome-wide association loci to disease.
Project description:BACKGROUND: We aimed to assess whether whole blood expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) with effects in cis and trans are robust and can be used to identify regulatory pathways affecting disease susceptibility. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed whole-genome eQTL analyses in 890 participants of the KORA F4 study and in two independent replication samples (SHIP-TREND, N?=?976 and EGCUT, N?=?842) using linear regression models and Bonferroni correction. RESULTS: In the KORA F4 study, 4,116 cis-eQTLs (defined as SNP-probe pairs where the SNP is located within a 500 kb window around the transcription unit) and 94 trans-eQTLs reached genome-wide significance and overall 91% (92% of cis-, 84% of trans-eQTLs) were confirmed in at least one of the two replication studies. Different study designs including distinct laboratory reagents (PAXgene™ vs. Tempus™ tubes) did not affect reproducibility (separate overall replication overlap: 78% and 82%). Immune response pathways were enriched in cis- and trans-eQTLs and significant cis-eQTLs were partly coexistent in other tissues (cross-tissue similarity 40-70%). Furthermore, four chromosomal regions displayed simultaneous impact on multiple gene expression levels in trans, and 746 eQTL-SNPs have been previously reported to have clinical relevance. We demonstrated cross-associations between eQTL-SNPs, gene expression levels in trans, and clinical phenotypes as well as a link between eQTLs and human metabolic traits via modification of gene regulation in cis. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that whole blood is a robust tissue for eQTL analysis and may be used both for biomarker studies and to enhance our understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying gene-disease associations.
Project description:Expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis, which links variations in gene expression to genotypes, is essential to understanding gene regulation and to interpreting disease-associated loci. Currently identified eQTLs are mainly in samples of blood and other normal tissues. However, no database comprehensively provides eQTLs in large number of cancer samples. Using the genotype and expression data of 9196 tumor samples in 33 cancer types from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we identified 5 606 570 eQTL-gene pairs in the cis-eQTL analysis and 231 210 eQTL-gene pairs in the trans-eQTL analysis. We further performed survival analysis and identified 22 212 eQTLs associated with patient overall survival. Furthermore, we linked the eQTLs to genome-wide association studies (GWAS) data and identified 337 131 eQTLs that overlap with existing GWAS loci. We developed PancanQTL, a user-friendly database (http://bioinfo.life.hust.edu.cn/PancanQTL/), to store cis-eQTLs, trans-eQTLs, survival-associated eQTLs and GWAS-related eQTLs to enable searching, browsing and downloading. PancanQTL could help the research community understand the effects of inherited variants in tumorigenesis and development.
Project description:BACKGROUND: With the completion of genome sequences belonging to some of the major crop plants, new challenges arise to utilize this data for crop improvement and increased food security. The field of genetical genomics has the potential to identify genes displaying heritable differential expression associated to important phenotypic traits. Here we describe the identification of expression QTLs (eQTLs) in two different potato tissues of a segregating potato population and query the potato genome sequence to differentiate between cis- and trans-acting eQTLs in relation to gene subfunctionalization. RESULTS: Leaf and tuber samples were analysed and screened for the presence of conserved and tissue dependent eQTLs. Expression QTLs present in both tissues are predominantly cis-acting whilst for tissue specific QTLs, the percentage of trans-acting QTLs increases. Tissue dependent eQTLs were assigned to functional classes and visualized in metabolic pathways. We identified a potential regulatory network on chromosome 10 involving genes crucial for maintaining circadian rhythms and controlling clock output genes. In addition, we show that the type of genetic material screened and sampling strategy applied, can have a high impact on the output of genetical genomics studies. CONCLUSIONS: Identification of tissue dependent regulatory networks based on mapped differential expression not only gives us insight in tissue dependent gene subfunctionalization but brings new insights into key biological processes and delivers targets for future haplotyping and genetic marker development.