[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic reference populations in model organisms are critical resources for systems genetic analysis of disease related phenotypes. The breeding history of these inbred panels may influence detectable allelic and phenotypic diversity. The existing panel of common inbred strains reflects historical selection biases, and existing recombinant inbred panels have low allelic diversity. All such populations may be subject to consequences of inbreeding depression. The Collaborative Cross (CC) is a mouse reference population with high allelic diversity that is being constructed using a randomized breeding design that systematically outcrosses eight founder strains, followed by inbreeding to obtain new recombinant inbred strains. Five of the eight founders are common laboratory strains, and three are wild-derived. Since its inception, the partially inbred CC has been characterized for physiological, morphological, and behavioral traits. The construction of this population provided a unique opportunity to observe phenotypic variation as new allelic combinations arose through intercrossing and inbreeding to create new stable genetic combinations. Processes including inbreeding depression and its impact on allelic and phenotypic diversity were assessed. Phenotypic variation in the CC breeding population exceeds that of existing mouse genetic reference populations due to both high founder genetic diversity and novel epistatic combinations. However, some focal evidence of allele purging was detected including a suggestive QTL for litter size in a location of changing allele frequency. Despite these inescapable pressures, high diversity and precision for genetic mapping remain. These results demonstrate the potential of the CC population once completed and highlight implications for development of related populations.
Genome Research 08/2011; 21(8):1223-38. · 14.40 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genes with common functions often exhibit correlated expression levels, which can be used to identify sets of interacting genes from microarray data. Microarrays typically measure expression across genomic space, creating a massive matrix of co-expression that must be mined to extract only the most relevant gene interactions. We describe a graph theoretical approach to extracting co-expressed sets of genes, based on the computation of cliques. Unlike the results of traditional clustering algorithms, cliques are not disjoint and allow genes to be assigned to multiple sets of interacting partners, consistent with biological reality. A graph is created by thresholding the correlation matrix to include only the correlations most likely to signify functional relationships. Cliques computed from the graph correspond to sets of genes for which significant edges are present between all members of the set, representing potential members of common or interacting pathways. Clique membership can be used to infer function about poorly annotated genes, based on the known functions of better-annotated genes with which they share clique membership (i.e., "guilt-by-association"). We illustrate our method by applying it to microarray data collected from the spleens of mice exposed to low-dose ionizing radiation. Differential analysis is used to identify sets of genes whose interactions are impacted by radiation exposure. The correlation graph is also queried independently of clique to extract edges that are impacted by radiation. We present several examples of multiple gene interactions that are altered by radiation exposure and thus represent potential molecular pathways that mediate the radiation response.