Comparing allele specific expression and local expression quantitative trait loci and the influence of gene expression on complex trait variation in cattle.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:The mutations changing the expression level of a gene, or expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL), can be identified by testing the association between genetic variants and gene expression in multiple individuals (eQTL mapping), or by comparing the expression of the alleles in a heterozygous individual (allele specific expression or ASE analysis). The aims of the study were to find and compare ASE and local eQTL in 4 bovine RNA-sequencing (RNA-Seq) datasets, validate them in an independent ASE study and investigate if they are associated with complex trait variation. RESULTS:We present a novel method for distinguishing between ASE driven by polymorphisms in cis and parent of origin effects. We found that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) driving ASE are also often local eQTL and therefore presumably cis eQTL. These SNPs often, but not always, affect gene expression in multiple tissues and, when they do, the allele increasing expression is usually the same. However, there were systematic differences between ASE and local eQTL and between tissues and breeds. We also found that SNPs significantly associated with gene expression (p?
Project description:BACKGROUND:Genetic analysis of gene expression level is a promising approach for characterizing candidate genes that are involved in complex economic traits such as meat quality. In the present study, we conducted expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) and allele-specific expression (ASE) analyses based on RNA-sequencing (RNAseq) data from the longissimus muscle of 189 Duroc?×?Luchuan crossed pigs in order to identify some candidate genes for meat quality traits. RESULTS:Using a genome-wide association study based on a mixed linear model, we identified 7192 cis-eQTL corresponding to 2098 cis-genes (p???1.33e-3, FDR???0.05) and 6400 trans-eQTL corresponding to 863 trans-genes (p???1.13e-6, FDR???0.05). ASE analysis using RNAseq SNPs identified 9815 significant ASE-SNPs in 2253 unique genes. Integrative analysis between the cis-eQTL and ASE target genes identified 540 common genes, including 33 genes with expression levels that were correlated with at least one meat quality trait. Among these 540 common genes, 63 have been reported previously as candidate genes for meat quality traits, such as PHKG1 (q-value?=?1.67e-6 for the leading SNP in the cis-eQTL analysis), NUDT7 (q-value?=?5.67e-13), FADS2 (q-value?=?8.44e-5), and DGAT2 (q-value?=?1.24e-3). CONCLUSIONS:The present study confirmed several previously published candidate genes and identified some novel candidate genes for meat quality traits via eQTL and ASE analyses, which will be useful to prioritize candidate genes in further studies.
Project description:A large number of genome-wide association studies have been performed during the past five years to identify associations between SNPs and human complex diseases and traits. The assignment of a functional role for the identified disease-associated SNP is not straight-forward. Genome-wide expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis is frequently used as the initial step to define a function while allele-specific gene expression (ASE) analysis has not yet gained a wide-spread use in disease mapping studies. We compared the power to identify cis-acting regulatory SNPs (cis-rSNPs) by genome-wide allele-specific gene expression (ASE) analysis with that of traditional expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) mapping. Our study included 395 healthy blood donors for whom global gene expression profiles in circulating monocytes were determined by Illumina BeadArrays. ASE was assessed in a subset of these monocytes from 188 donors by quantitative genotyping of mRNA using a genome-wide panel of SNP markers. The performance of the two methods for detecting cis-rSNPs was evaluated by comparing associations between SNP genotypes and gene expression levels in sample sets of varying size. We found that up to 8-fold more samples are required for eQTL mapping to reach the same statistical power as that obtained by ASE analysis for the same rSNPs. The performance of ASE is insensitive to SNPs with low minor allele frequencies and detects a larger number of significantly associated rSNPs using the same sample size as eQTL mapping. An unequivocal conclusion from our comparison is that ASE analysis is more sensitive for detecting cis-rSNPs than standard eQTL mapping. Our study shows the potential of ASE mapping in tissue samples and primary cells which are difficult to obtain in large numbers.
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:Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analyses detect genetic variants (SNPs) associated with RNA expression levels of genes. The conventional eQTL analysis is to perform individual tests for each gene-SNP pair using simple linear regression and to perform the test on each tissue separately ignoring the extensive information known about RNA expression in other tissue(s). Although Bayesian models have been recently developed to improve eQTL prediction on multiple tissues, they are often based on uninformative priors or treat all tissues equally. In this study, we develop a novel tissue augmented Bayesian model for eQTL analysis (TA-eQTL), which takes prior eQTL information from a different tissue into account to better predict eQTL for another tissue. We demonstrate that our modified Bayesian model has comparable performance to several existing methods in terms of sensitivity and specificity using allele-specific expression (ASE) as the gold standard. Furthermore, the tissue augmented Bayesian model improves the power and accuracy for local-eQTL prediction especially when the sample size is small. In summary, TA-eQTL's performance is comparable to existing methods but has additional flexibility to evaluate data from different platforms, can focus prediction on one tissue using only summary statistics from the secondary tissue(s), and provides a closed form solution for estimation.
Project description:The identification of cis-acting regulatory variation in primary tissues has the potential to elucidate the genetic basis of complex traits and further our understanding of transcriptomic diversity across cell types. Expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) association analysis using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data can improve upon the detection of cis-acting regulatory variation by leveraging allele-specific expression (ASE) patterns in association analysis. Here, we present a comprehensive evaluation of cis-acting eQTLs by analyzing RNA-seq gene-expression data and genome-wide high-density genotypes from 471 samples of normal primary prostate tissue. Using statistical models that integrate ASE information, we identified extensive cis-eQTLs across the prostate transcriptome and found that approximately 70% of expressed genes corresponded to a significant eQTL at a gene-level false-discovery rate of 0.05. Overall, cis-eQTLs were heavily concentrated near the transcription start and stop sites of affected genes, and effects were negatively correlated with distance. We identified multiple instances of cis-acting co-regulation by using phased genotype data and discovered 233 SNPs as the most strongly associated eQTLs for more than one gene. We also noted significant enrichment (25/50, p = 2E-5) of previously reported prostate cancer risk SNPs in prostate eQTLs. Our results illustrate the benefit of assessing ASE data in cis-eQTL analyses by showing better reproducibility of prior eQTL findings than of eQTL mapping based on total expression alone. Altogether, our analysis provides extensive functional context of thousands of SNPs in prostate tissue, and these results will be of critical value in guiding studies examining disease of the human prostate.
Project description:Interpreting the susceptible loci documented by genome-wide association studies (GWASs) is of utmost importance in the post-GWAS era. Since most complex traits are contributed by multiple tissues, analyzing tissue-specific effects of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) is a promising approach. Here we describe "opposite eQTL effects", i.e., gene expression effects of eQTLs that are in the opposite direction between different tissues, as the biologically meaningful annotations of genes and genetic variants for understanding the GWAS loci. The genes and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the opposite eQTL effects (opp-multi-eQTL-Genes and opp-multi-eQTL-SNPs) were extracted from the largest eQTL database provided by the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project (release version 7). The opposite eQTL effects were detected even between closely related tissues such as cerebellum and brain cortex, and a significant proportion of the genes having eQTLs were annotated as the opp-multi-eQTL-Genes (2,323 out of 31,212; 7.4%). The opp-multi-eQTL-SNPs showed locational enrichment at the transcription start site and also possible involvement of epigenetic regulation. The biological importance of the opposite eQTL effects was also assessed using the SNPs reported in GWASs (GWAS-SNPs), which demonstrated that a high proportion of the opp-multi-eQTL-SNPs are in linkage disequilibrium with the GWAS-SNPs (2,498 out of 9,290; 26.9%). Based on the results, the opposite eQTL effects can be a common phenomenon in the tissue-specific gene regulation with a possible contribution to the development of complex traits.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Variants that regulate transcription, such as expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL), have shown enrichment in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for mammalian complex traits. However, no study has reported eQTL in sheep, although it is an important agricultural species for which many GWAS of complex meat traits have been conducted. Using RNA sequence data produced from liver and muscle from 149 sheep and imputed whole-genome single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), our aim was to dissect the genetic architecture of the transcriptome by associating sheep genotypes with three major molecular phenotypes including gene expression (geQTL), exon expression (eeQTL) and RNA splicing (sQTL). We also examined these three types of eQTL for their enrichment in GWAS of multi-meat traits and fatty acid profiles.<h4>Results</h4>Whereas a relatively small number of molecular phenotypes were significantly heritable (h<sup>2</sup>?>?0, P?<?0.05), their mean heritability ranged from 0.67 to 0.73 for liver and from 0.71 to 0.77 for muscle. Association analysis between molecular phenotypes and SNPs within?±?1 Mb identified many significant cis-eQTL (false discovery rate, FDR?<?0.01). The median distance between the eQTL and transcription start sites (TSS) ranged from 68 to 153 kb across the three eQTL types. The number of common variants between geQTL, eeQTL and sQTL within each tissue, and the number of common variants between liver and muscle within each eQTL type were all significantly (P?<?0.05) larger than expected by chance. The identified eQTL were significantly (P?<?0.05) enriched in GWAS hits associated with 56 carcass traits and fatty acid profiles. For example, several geQTL in muscle mapped to the FAM184B gene, hundreds of sQTL in liver and muscle mapped to the CAST gene, and hundreds of sQTL in liver mapped to the C6 gene. These three genes are associated with body composition or fatty acid profiles.<h4>Conclusions</h4>We detected a large number of significant eQTL and found that the overlap of variants between eQTL types and tissues was prevalent. Many eQTL were also QTL for meat traits. Our study fills a gap in the knowledge on the regulatory variants and their role in complex traits for the sheep model.
Project description:The observation that variants regulating gene expression (expression quantitative trait loci, eQTL) are at a high frequency among SNPs associated with complex traits has made the genome-wide characterization of gene expression an important tool in genetic mapping studies of such traits. As part of a study to identify genetic loci contributing to bipolar disorder and other quantitative traits in members of 26 pedigrees from Costa Rica and Colombia, we measured gene expression in lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from 786 pedigree members. The study design enabled us to comprehensively reconstruct the genetic regulatory network in these families, provide estimates of heritability, identify eQTL, evaluate missing heritability for the eQTL, and quantify the number of different alleles contributing to any given locus. In the eQTL analysis, we utilize a recently proposed hierarchical multiple testing strategy which controls error rates regarding the discovery of functional variants. Our results elucidate the heritability and regulation of gene expression in this unique Latin American study population and identify a set of regulatory SNPs which may be relevant in future investigations of complex disease in this population. Since our subjects belong to extended families, we are able to compare traditional kinship-based estimates with those from more recent methods that depend only on genotype information.
Project description:Most genome-wide association studies consider genes that are located closest to single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are highly significant for those studies. However, the significance of the associations between SNPs and candidate genes has not been fully determined. An alternative approach that used SNPs in expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) was reported previously for Crohn's disease; it was shown that eQTL-based preselection for follow-up studies was a useful approach for identifying risk loci from the results of moderately sized GWAS. In this study, we propose an approach that uses eQTL SNPs to support the functional relationships between an SNP and a candidate gene in a genome-wide association study. The genome-wide SNP genotypes and 10 biochemical measures (fasting glucose levels, BUN, serum albumin levels, AST, ALT, gamma GTP, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol) were obtained from the Korean Association Resource (KARE) consortium. The eQTL SNPs were isolated from the SNP dataset based on the RegulomeDB eQTL-SNP data from the ENCODE projects and two recent eQTL reports. A total of 25,658 eQTL SNPs were tested for their association with the 10 metabolic traits in 2 Korean populations (Ansung and Ansan). The proportion of phenotypic variance explained by eQTL and non-eQTL SNPs showed that eQTL SNPs were more likely to be associated with the metabolic traits genetically compared with non-eQTL SNPs. Finally, via a meta-analysis of the two Korean populations, we identified 14 eQTL SNPs that were significantly associated with metabolic traits. These results suggest that our approach can be expanded to other genome-wide association studies.
Project description:The importance of the adrenal gland in regard to lactation and reproduction in cattle has been recognized early. Caused by interest in animal welfare and the impact of stress on economically important traits in farm animals the adrenal gland and its function within the stress response is of increasing interest. However, the molecular mechanisms and pathways involved in stress-related effects on economically important traits in farm animals are not fully understood. Gene expression is an important mechanism underlying complex traits, and genetic variants affecting the transcript abundance are thought to influence the manifestation of an expressed phenotype. We therefore investigated the genetic background of adrenocortical gene expression by applying an adaptive linear rank test to identify genome-wide expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) for adrenal cortex transcripts in cattle.A total of 10,986 adrenal cortex transcripts and 37,204 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were analysed in 145 F2 cows of a Charolais × German Holstein cross. We identified 505 SNPs that were associated with the abundance of 129 transcripts, comprising 482 cis effects and 17 trans effects. These SNPs were located on all chromosomes but X, 16, 24 and 28. Associated genes are mainly involved in molecular and cellular functions comprising free radical scavenging, cellular compromise, cell morphology and lipid metabolism, including genes such as CYP27A1 and LHCGR that have been shown to affect economically important traits in cattle.In this study we showed that adrenocortical eQTL affect the expression of genes known to contribute to the phenotypic manifestation in cattle. Furthermore, some of the identified genes and related molecular pathways were previously shown to contribute to the phenotypic variation of behaviour, temperament and growth at the onset of puberty in the same population investigated here. We conclude that eQTL analysis appears to be a useful approach providing insight into the molecular and genetic background of complex traits in cattle and will help to understand molecular networks involved.