Complex trait analysis of gene expression uncovers polygenic and pleiotropic networks that modulate nervous system function.

University of Tennessee Health Science Center, 855 Monroe Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38163, USA.
Nature Genetics (Impact Factor: 29.65). 04/2005; 37(3):233-42. DOI: 10.1038/ng1518
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Patterns of gene expression in the central nervous system are highly variable and heritable. This genetic variation among normal individuals leads to considerable structural, functional and behavioral differences. We devised a general approach to dissect genetic networks systematically across biological scale, from base pairs to behavior, using a reference population of recombinant inbred strains. We profiled gene expression using Affymetrix oligonucleotide arrays in the BXD recombinant inbred strains, for which we have extensive SNP and haplotype data. We integrated a complementary database comprising 25 years of legacy phenotypic data on these strains. Covariance among gene expression and pharmacological and behavioral traits is often highly significant, corroborates known functional relations and is often generated by common quantitative trait loci. We found that a small number of major-effect quantitative trait loci jointly modulated large sets of transcripts and classical neural phenotypes in patterns specific to each tissue. We developed new analytic and graph theoretical approaches to study shared genetic modulation of networks of traits using gene sets involved in neural synapse function as an example. We built these tools into an open web resource called WebQTL that can be used to test a broad array of hypotheses.

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    ABSTRACT: Adult neurogenesis, the lifelong production of new neurons in the adult brain, is under complex genetic control but many of the genes involved remain to be identified. In this study, we have integrated publicly available gene expression data from the BXD and CXB recombinant inbred mouse lines to discover genes co-expressed in the adult hippocampus with Nestin, a common marker of the neural precursor cell population. In addition, we incorporated spatial expression information to restrict candidates to genes with high differential gene expression in the hippocampal dentate gyrus. Incorporating data from curated protein-protein interaction databases revealed interactions between our candidate genes and those already known to be involved in adult neurogenesis. Enrichment analysis suggested a link to the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, known to be involved in adult neurogenesis. In particular, our candidates were enriched in targets of Lef1, a modulator of the Wnt pathway. In conclusion, our combination of bioinformatics approaches identified six novel candidate genes involved in adult neurogenesis; Amer3, Eya3, Mtdh, Nr4a3, Polr2a, and Tbkbp1. Further, we propose a role for Lef1 transcriptional control in the regulation of adult hippocampal precursor cell proliferation.
    Frontiers in Neuroscience 12/2014; 8:418.
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