Polymorphic cis- and trans-regulation of human gene expression.
ABSTRACT: Expression levels of human genes vary extensively among individuals. This variation facilitates analyses of expression levels as quantitative phenotypes in genetic studies where the entire genome can be scanned for regulators without prior knowledge of the regulatory mechanisms, thus enabling the identification of unknown regulatory relationships. Here, we carried out such genetic analyses with a large sample size and identified cis- and trans-acting polymorphic regulators for about 1,000 human genes. We validated the cis-acting regulators by demonstrating differential allelic expression with sequencing of transcriptomes (RNA-Seq) and the trans-regulators by gene knockdown, metabolic assays, and chromosome conformation capture analysis. The majority of the regulators act in trans to the target (regulated) genes. Most of these trans-regulators were not known to play a role in gene expression regulation. The identification of these regulators enabled the characterization of polymorphic regulation of human gene expression at a resolution that was unattainable in the past.
Project description:Humans are exposed to radiation through the environment and in medical settings. To deal with radiation-induced damage, cells mount complex responses that rely on changes in gene expression. These gene expression responses differ greatly between individuals and contribute to individual differences in response to radiation. Here we identify regulators that influence expression levels of radiation-responsive genes. We treated radiation-induced changes in gene expression as quantitative phenotypes, and conducted genetic linkage and association studies to map their regulators. For more than 1,200 of these phenotypes there was significant evidence of linkage to specific chromosomal regions. Nearly all of the regulators act in trans to influence the expression of their target genes; there are very few cis-acting regulators. Some of the trans-acting regulators are transcription factors, but others are genes that were not known to have a regulatory function in radiation response. These results have implications for our basic and clinical understanding of how human cells respond to radiation.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Expression QTL analyses have shed light on transcriptional regulation in numerous species of plants, animals, and yeasts. These microarray-based analyses identify regulators of gene expression as either cis-acting factors that regulate proximal genes, or trans-acting factors that function through a variety of mechanisms to affect transcript abundance of unlinked genes. RESULTS:A hydroponics-based genetical genomics study in roots of a Zea mays IBM2 Syn10 double haploid population identified tens of thousands of cis-acting and trans-acting eQTL. Cases of false-positive eQTL, which results from the lack of complete genomic sequences from both parental genomes, were described. A candidate gene for a trans-acting regulatory factor was identified through positional cloning. The unexpected regulatory function of a class I glutamine amidotransferase controls the expression of an ABA 8'-hydroxylase pseudogene. CONCLUSIONS:Identification of a candidate gene underlying a trans-eQTL demonstrated the feasibility of eQTL cloning in maize and could help to understand the mechanism of gene expression regulation. Lack of complete genome sequences from both parents could cause the identification of false-positive cis- and trans-acting eQTL.
Project description:Microbial populations founded by a single clone and propagated under resource limitation can become polymorphic. We sought to elucidate genetic mechanisms whereby a polymorphism evolved in Escherichia coli under glucose limitation and persisted because of cross-feeding among multiple adaptive clones. Apart from a 29 kb deletion in the dominant clone, no large-scale genomic changes distinguished evolved clones from their common ancestor. Using transcriptional profiling on co-evolved clones cultured separately under glucose-limitation we identified 180 genes significantly altered in expression relative to the common ancestor grown under similar conditions. Ninety of these were similarly expressed in all clones, and many of the genes affected (e.g., mglBAC, mglD, and lamB) are in operons coordinately regulated by CRP and/or rpoS. While the remaining significant expression differences were clone-specific, 93% were exhibited by the majority clone, many of which are controlled by global regulators, CRP and CpxR. When transcriptional profiling was performed on adaptive clones cultured together, many expression differences that distinguished the majority clone cultured in isolation were absent, suggesting that CpxR may be activated by overflow metabolites removed by cross-feeding strains in co-culture. Relative to their common ancestor, shared expression differences among adaptive clones were partly attributable to early-arising shared mutations in the trans-acting global regulator, rpoS, and the cis-acting regulator, mglO. Gene expression differences that distinguished clones may in part be explained by mutations in trans-acting regulators malT and glpK, and in cis-acting sequences of acs. In the founder, a cis-regulatory mutation in acs (acetyl CoA synthetase) and a structural mutation in glpR (glycerol-3-phosphate repressor) likely favored evolution of specialists that thrive on overflow metabolites. Later-arising mutations that led to specialization emphasize the importance of compensatory rather than gain-of-function mutations in this system. Taken together, these findings underscore the importance of regulatory change, founder genotype, and the biotic environment in the adaptive evolution of microbes.
Project description:Differences in gene expression may be caused by nearby DNA polymorphisms (cis regulation) or by interactions of gene control regions with polymorphic transcription factors (trans regulation). Trans acting loci are much harder to detect than cis acting loci and their effects are much more sensitive to genetic background.To quantify cis and trans regulation we correlated haplotype data with gene expression in two inbred mouse strains and two derived congenic lines. Upstream haplotype differences between the parental strains suggested that 30-43% of differentially expressed genes were differentially expressed because of cis haplotype differences. These cis regulated genes displayed consistent and relatively tissue-independent differential expression. We independently estimated from the congenic mice that 71-85% of genes were trans regulated. Cis regulated genes were associated with low p values (p < 0.005) for differential expression, whereas trans regulated genes were associated with values 0.005 < p < 0.05. The genes differentially expressed between congenics and controls were not a subset of those that were differentially expressed between the founder lines, showing that these were dependent on genetic background. For example, the cholesterol synthesis pathway was strongly differentially expressed in the congenic mice by indirect trans regulation but this was not observable in the parental mice.The evidence that most gene regulation is trans and strongly influenced by genetic background, suggests that pathways that are modified by an allelic variant, may only exhibit differential expression in the specific genetic backgrounds in which they were identified. This has significant implications for the interpretation of any QTL mapping study.
Project description:It is well established that all of the cis-acting sequences required for fully regulated human alpha-globin expression are contained within a region of approximately 120 kb of conserved synteny. Here, we show that activation of this cluster in erythroid cells dramatically affects expression of apparently unrelated and noncontiguous genes in the 500 kb surrounding this domain, including a gene (NME4) located 300 kb from the alpha-globin cluster. Changes in NME4 expression are mediated by physical cis-interactions between this gene and the alpha-globin regulatory elements. Polymorphic structural variation within the globin cluster, altering the number of alpha-globin genes, affects the pattern of NME4 expression by altering the competition for the shared alpha-globin regulatory elements. These findings challenge the concept that the genome is organized into discrete, insulated regulatory domains. In addition, this work has important implications for our understanding of genome evolution, the interpretation of genome-wide expression, expression-quantitative trait loci, and copy number variant analyses.
Project description:Variations in the activities of Cytochrome P450s are one of the major factors responsible for inter-individual differences in drug clearance rates, which may cause serious toxicity or inefficacy of therapeutic drugs. Various mRNA level is one of the key factors for different activity of the major P450 genes. Although both genetic and environmental regulators of P450 gene expression have been widely investigated, few studies have evaluated the functional importance of cis- and trans-regulatory factors and environmental factors in the modulation of inter-individual expression variations of the P450 genes. In this study, we measured the mRNA levels of seven major P450 genes (CYP1A1, CYP1A2, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, CYP2D6, CYP3A4 and CYP3A5) in 96 liver biopsy samples from Chinese population. Both trans-acting (mRNA levels and non-synonymous SNPs of putative regulator genes) and cis-acting (gene copy number and functional SNPs) factors were investigated to identify the determinants of the expression variations of these seven P450 genes. We found that expression variations of most P450 genes, regulator genes and housekeeping genes were positively correlated at the mRNA level. After partial correlation analysis using ACTB and GAPDH expression to eliminate the effect of global regulators, a UPGMA (Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Mean) tree was constructed to reveal the effects of specific regulation networks potentially masked by global regulators. Combined with the functional analysis of regulators, our results suggested that expression variation at the mRNA level was mediated by several factors in a gene-specific manner. Cis-acting genetic variants might play key roles in the expression variation of CYP2D6 and CYP3A5, environmental inducers might play key roles in CYP1A1 and CYP1A2 variation and global regulators might play key roles in CYP2C9 variation. In addition, the functions of regulators that play less important roles in controlling expression variation for each P450 gene were determined.
Project description:Duplicate genes tend to have a more variable expression program than singleton genes, which was thought to be an important way for the organism to respond and adapt to fluctuating environment. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms driving such expression variation remain largely unexplored. In this work, we first rigorously confirmed that duplicate genes indeed have higher gene expression variation than singleton genes in several aspects, i.e. responses to environmental perturbation, between-strain divergence, and expression noise. To investigate the underlying mechanism, we further analyzed a previously published expression dataset of yeast segregants produced from genetic crosses. We dissected the observed expression divergence between segregant strains into cis- and trans-variabilities, and demonstrated that trans-regulation effect can explain larger fraction of the expression variation than cis-regulation effect. This is true for both duplicate genes and singleton genes. In contrast, we found, between a pair of sister paralogs, cis-variability explains more of the expression divergence between the paralogs than trans-variability. We next investigated the presence of cis- and trans-features that are associated with elevated expression variations. For cis-acting regulation, duplicate genes have higher genetic diversity in their promoters and coding regions than singleton genes. For trans-acting regulation, duplicate and singleton genes are differentially regulated by chromatin regulators and transcription factors, and duplicate genes are more severely affected by the deletion of histone tails. These results showed that both cis-and trans-factors have great effect in causing the increased expression variation of duplicate genes, and explained the previously observed differences in transcription regulation between duplicate genes and singleton genes.
Project description:Identifying the factors that shape protein expression variability in complex multi-cellular organisms has primarily focused on promoter architecture and regulation of single-cell expression in cis. However, this targeted approach has to date been unable to identify major regulators of cell-to-cell gene expression variability in humans. To address this, we have combined single-cell protein expression measurements in the human immune system using flow cytometry with a quantitative genetics analysis. For the majority of proteins whose variability in expression has a heritable component, we find that genetic variants act in trans, with notably fewer variants acting in cis. Furthermore, we highlight using Mendelian Randomization that these variability-Quantitative Trait Loci might be driven by the cis regulation of upstream genes. This indicates that natural selection may balance the impact of gene regulation in cis with downstream impacts on expression variability in trans.
Project description:Regulation of gene expression is an important mechanism through which genetic variation can affect complex traits. A substantial portion of gene expression variation can be explained by both local (cis) and distal (trans) genetic variation. Much progress has been made in uncovering cis-acting expression quantitative trait loci (cis-eQTL), but trans-eQTL have been more difficult to identify and replicate. Here we take advantage of our ability to predict the cis component of gene expression coupled with gene mapping methods such as PrediXcan to identify high confidence candidate trans-acting genes and their targets. That is, we correlate the cis component of gene expression with observed expression of genes in different chromosomes. Leveraging the shared cis-acting regulation across tissues, we combine the evidence of association across all available Genotype-Tissue Expression Project tissues and find 2,356 trans-acting/target gene pairs with high mappability scores. Reassuringly, trans-acting genes are enriched in transcription and nucleic acid binding pathways and target genes are enriched in known transcription factor binding sites. Interestingly, trans-acting genes are more significantly associated with selected complex traits and diseases than target or background genes, consistent with percolating trans effects. Our scripts and summary statistics are publicly available for future studies of trans-acting gene regulation.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Transposable elements (TEs) are DNA sequences able to mobilize themselves and to increase their copy-number in the host genome. In the past, they have been considered mainly selfish DNA without evident functions. Nevertheless, currently they are believed to have been extensively involved in the evolution of primate genomes, especially from a regulatory perspective. Due to their recent activity they are also one of the primary sources of structural variants (SVs) in the human genome. By taking advantage of sequencing technologies and bioinformatics tools, recent surveys uncovered specific TE structural variants (TEVs) that gave rise to polymorphisms in human populations. When combined with RNA-seq data this information provides the opportunity to study the potential impact of TEs on gene expression in human. RESULTS:In this work, we assessed the effects of the presence of specific TEs in cis on the expression of flanking genes by producing associations between polymorphic TEs and flanking gene expression levels in human lymphoblastoid cell lines. By using public data from the 1000 Genome Project and the Geuvadis consortium, we exploited an expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) approach integrated with additional bioinformatics data mining analyses. We uncovered human loci enriched for common, less common and rare TEVs and identified 323 significant TEV-cis-eQTL associations. SINE-R/VNTR/Alus (SVAs) resulted the TE class with the strongest effects on gene expression. We also unveiled differential functional enrichments on genes associated to TEVs, genes associated to TEV-cis-eQTLs and genes associated to the genomic regions mostly enriched in TEV-cis-eQTLs highlighting, at multiple levels, the impact of TEVs on the host genome. Finally, we also identified polymorphic TEs putatively embedded in transcriptional units, proposing a novel mechanism in which TEVs may mediate individual-specific traits. CONCLUSION:We contributed to unveiling the effect of polymorphic TEs on transcription in lymphoblastoid cell lines.