Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, the pathogenesis of which is affected by multiple genetic and environmental factors. To understand the genetic and molecular basis of RA, a large number of quantitative trait loci (QTL) that regulate experimental autoimmune arthritis have been identified using various rat models for RA. However, identifying the particular responsible genes within these QTL remains a major challenge. Using currently available genome data and gene annotation information, we systematically examined RA-associated genes and polymorphisms within and outside QTL over the whole rat genome. By the whole genome analysis of genes and polymorphisms, we found that there are significantly more RA-associated genes in QTL regions as contrasted with non-QTL regions. Further experimental studies are necessary to determine whether these known RA-associated genes or polymorphisms are genetic components causing the QTL effect.
Gramene is a comparative information resource for plants that integrates data across diverse data domains. In this article, we describe the development of a quantitative trait loci (QTL) database and illustrate how it can be used to facilitate both the forward and reverse genetics research. The QTL database contains the largest online collection of rice QTL data in the world. Using flanking markers as anchors, QTLs originally reported on individual genetic maps have been systematically aligned to the rice sequence where they can be searched as standard genomic features. Researchers can determine whether a QTL co-localizes with other QTLs detected in independent experiments and can combine data from multiple studies to improve the resolution of a QTL position. Candidate genes falling within a QTL interval can be identified and their relationship to particular phenotypes can be inferred based on functional annotations provided by ontology terms. Mutations identified in functional genomics populations and association mapping panels can be aligned with QTL regions to facilitate fine mapping and validation of gene–phenotype associations. By assembling and integrating diverse types of data and information across species and levels of biological complexity, the QTL database enhances the potential to understand and utilize QTL information in biological research.
The Bovine Genome Database (BGD; http://BovineGenome.org) strives to improve annotation of the bovine genome and to integrate the genome sequence with other genomics data. BGD includes GBrowse genome browsers, the Apollo Annotation Editor, a quantitative trait loci (QTL) viewer, BLAST databases and gene pages. Genome browsers, available for both scaffold and chromosome coordinate systems, display the bovine Official Gene Set (OGS), RefSeq and Ensembl gene models, non-coding RNA, repeats, pseudogenes, single-nucleotide polymorphism, markers, QTL and alignments to complementary DNAs, ESTs and protein homologs. The Bovine QTL viewer is connected to the BGD Chromosome GBrowse, allowing for the identification of candidate genes underlying QTL. The Apollo Annotation Editor connects directly to the BGD Chado database to provide researchers with remote access to gene evidence in a graphical interface that allows editing and creating new gene models. Researchers may upload their annotations to the BGD server for review and integration into the subsequent release of the OGS. Gene pages display information for individual OGS gene models, including gene structure, transcript variants, functional descriptions, gene symbols, Gene Ontology terms, annotator comments and links to National Center for Biotechnology Information and Ensembl. Each gene page is linked to a wiki page to allow input from the research community.
Rat models are frequently used to link genomic regions to experimentally induced arthritis in quantitative trait locus (QTL) analyses. To facilitate the search for candidate genes within such regions, we have previously developed an application (CGC) that uses weighted keywords to rank genes based on their descriptive text. In this study, CGC is used for analyzing the localization of candidate genes from two viewpoints: distribution over the rat genome and functional connections between arthritis QTLs.
To investigate if candidate genes identified by CGC are more likely to be found inside QTLs, we ranked 2403 genes genome wide in rat. The number of genes within different ranges of CGC scores localized inside and outside QTLs was then calculated. Furthermore, we investigated if candidate genes within certain QTLs share similar functions, and if these functions could be connected to genes within other QTLs. Based on references between genes in OMIM, we created connections between genes in QTLs identified in two distinct rat crosses. In this way, QTL pairs with one QTL from each cross that share an unexpectedly high number of gene connections were identified. The genes that were found to connect a pair of QTLs were then functionally analysed using a publicly available classification tool.
Out of the 2403 genes ranked by the CGC application, 1160 were localized within QTL regions. No difference was observed between highly and lowly rated genes. Hence, highly rated candidate genes for arthritis seem to be distributed randomly inside and outside QTLs. Furthermore, we found five pairs of QTLs that shared a significantly high number of interconnected genes. When functionally analyzed, most genes connecting two QTLs could be included in a single functional cluster. Thus, the functional connections between these genes could very well be involved in the development of an arthritis phenotype.
From the genome wide CGC search, we conclude that candidate genes for arthritis in rat are randomly distributed between QTL and non-QTL regions. We do however find certain pairs of QTLs that share a large number of functionally connected candidate genes, suggesting that these QTLs contain a number of genes involved in similar functions contributing to the arthritis phenotype.
From an extensive review of public domain information on dairy cattle quantitative trait loci (QTL), we have prepared a draft online QTL map for dairy production traits. Most publications (45 out of 55 reviewed) reported QTL for the major milk production traits (milk, fat and protein yield, and fat and protein concentration (%)) and somatic cell score. Relatively few QTL studies have been reported for more complex traits such as mastitis, fertility and health. The collated QTL map shows some chromosomal regions with a high density of QTL, as well as a substantial number of QTL at single chromosomal locations. To extract the most information from these published records, a meta-analysis was conducted to obtain consensus on QTL location and allelic substitution effect of these QTL. This required modification and development of statistical methodologies. The meta-analysis indicated a number of consensus regions, the most striking being two distinct regions affecting milk yield on chromosome 6 at 49 cM and 87 cM explaining 4.2 and 3.6 percent of the genetic variance of milk yield, respectively. The first of these regions (near marker BM143) affects five separate milk production traits (protein yield, protein percent, fat yield, fat percent, as well as milk yield).
quantitative trait loci; dairy cattle; review; meta-analysis
Bovine chromosome 14 (BTA14) has been widely explored for quantitative trait loci (QTL) and genes related to economically important traits in both dairy and beef cattle. We reviewed more than 40 investigations and anchored 126 QTL to the current genome assembly (Btau 4_0). Using this anchored QTL map, we observed that, in dairy cattle, the region spanning 0 – 10 Mb on BTA14 has the highest density QTL map with a total of 56 QTL, mainly for milk production traits. It is very likely that both somatic cell score (SCS) and clinical mastitis share some common QTL in two regions: 61.48 Mb - 73.84 Mb and 7.86 Mb – 39.55 Mb, respectively. As well, both ovulation rate and twinning rate might share a common QTL region from 34.16 Mb to 65.38 Mb. However, there are no common QTL locations in three pregnancy related phenotypes: non-return rate, pregnancy rate and daughter pregnancy rate. In beef cattle, the majority of QTL are located in a broad region of 15 Mb – 45 Mb on the chromosome. Functional genes, such as CRH, CYP11B1, DGAT1, FABP4 and TG, as potential candidates for some of these QTL, were also reviewed. Therefore, our review provides a standardized QTL map anchored within the current genome assembly, which would enhance the process of selecting positional and physiological candidate genes for many important traits in cattle.
cattle; BTA14; QTL; review
In crop species, QTL analysis is commonly used for identification of factors contributing to variation of agronomically important traits. As an important pasture species, a large number of QTLs have been reported for perennial ryegrass based on analysis of biparental mapping populations. Further characterisation of those QTLs is, however, essential for utilisation in varietal improvement programs.
A bibliographic survey of perennial ryegrass trait-dissection studies identified a total of 560 QTLs from previously published papers, of which 189, 270 and 101 were classified as morphology-, physiology- and resistance/tolerance-related loci, respectively. The collected dataset permitted a subsequent meta-QTL study and implementation of a cross-species candidate gene identification approach. A meta-QTL analysis based on use of the BioMercator software was performed to identify two consensus regions for pathogen resistance traits. Genes that are candidates for causal polymorphism underpinning perennial ryegrass QTLs were identified through in silico comparative mapping using rice databases, and 7 genes were assigned to the p150/112 reference map. Markers linked to the LpDGL1, LpPh1 and LpPIPK1 genes were located close to plant size, leaf extension time and heading date-related QTLs, respectively, suggesting that these genes may be functionally associated with important agronomic traits in perennial ryegrass.
Functional markers are valuable for QTL meta-analysis and comparative genomics. Enrichment of such genetic markers may permit further detailed characterisation of QTLs. The outcomes of QTL meta-analysis and comparative genomics studies may be useful for accelerated development of novel perennial ryegrass cultivars with desirable traits.
Quantitative variation; Pasture grass; BioMercator software; Comparative genetics; Genetic map; Molecular breeding
A number of different quantitative trait loci (QTL) for various phenotypic traits, including milk production, functional, and conformation traits in dairy cattle as well as growth and body composition traits in meat cattle, have been mapped consistently in the middle region of bovine chromosome 6 (BTA6). Dense genetic and physical maps and, ultimately, a fully annotated genome sequence as well as their mutual connections are required to efficiently identify genes and gene variants responsible for genetic variation of phenotypic traits. A comprehensive high-resolution gene-rich map linking densely spaced bovine markers and genes to the annotated human genome sequence is required as a framework to facilitate this approach for the region on BTA6 carrying the QTL.
Therefore, we constructed a high-resolution radiation hybrid (RH) map for the QTL containing chromosomal region of BTA6. This new RH map with a total of 234 loci including 115 genes and ESTs displays a substantial increase in loci density compared to existing physical BTA6 maps. Screening the available bovine genome sequence resources, a total of 73 loci could be assigned to sequence contigs, which were already identified as specific for BTA6. For 43 loci, corresponding sequence contigs, which were not yet placed on the bovine genome assembly, were identified. In addition, the improved potential of this high-resolution RH map for BTA6 with respect to comparative mapping was demonstrated. Mapping a large number of genes on BTA6 and cross-referencing them with map locations in corresponding syntenic multi-species chromosome segments (human, mouse, rat, dog, chicken) achieved a refined accurate alignment of conserved segments and evolutionary breakpoints across the species included.
The gene-anchored high-resolution RH map (1 locus/300 kb) for the targeted region of BTA6 presented here will provide a valuable platform to guide high-quality assembling and annotation of the currently existing bovine genome sequence draft to establish the final architecture of BTA6. Hence, a sequence-based map will provide a key resource to facilitate prospective continued efforts for the selection and validation of relevant positional and functional candidates underlying QTL for milk production and growth-related traits mapped on BTA6 and on similar chromosomal regions from evolutionary closely related species like sheep and goat. Furthermore, the high-resolution sequence-referenced BTA6 map will enable precise identification of multi-species conserved chromosome segments and evolutionary breakpoints in mammalian phylogenetic studies.
Somatic growth is a complex process that involves the action and interaction of genes and environment. A number of quantitative trait loci (QTL) previously identified for body weight and condition factor in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and two other salmonid species, were used to further investigate the genetic architecture of growth-influencing genes in this species. Relationships among previously mapped candidate genes for growth and their co-localization to identified QTL regions are reported. Furthermore, using a comparative genomic analysis of syntenic rainbow trout linkage group clusters to their homologous regions within model teleost species such as zebrafish, stickleback and medaka, inferences were made regarding additional possible candidate genes underlying identified QTL regions.
Body weight (BW) QTL were detected on the majority of rainbow trout linkage groups across 10 parents from 3 strains. However, only 10 linkage groups (i.e., RT-3, -6, -8, -9, -10, -12, -13, -22, -24, -27) possessed QTL regions with chromosome-wide or genome-wide effects across multiple parents. Fewer QTL for condition factor (K) were identified and only six instances of co-localization across families were detected (i.e. RT-9, -15, -16, -23, -27, -31 and RT-2/9 homeologs). Of note, both BW and K QTL co-localize on RT-9 and RT-27. The incidence of epistatic interaction across genomic regions within different female backgrounds was also examined, and although evidence for interaction effects within certain QTL regions were evident, these interactions were few in number and statistically weak. Of interest, however, was the fact that these predominantly occurred within K QTL regions. Currently mapped growth candidate genes are largely congruent with the identified QTL regions. More QTL were detected in male, compared to female parents, with the greatest number evident in an F1 male parent derived from an intercross between domesticated and wild strain of rainbow trout which differed strongly in growth rate.
Strain background influences the degree to which QTL effects are evident for growth-related genes. The process of domestication (which primarily selects faster growing fish) may largely reduce the genetic influences on growth-specific phenotypic variation. Although heritabilities have been reported to be relatively high for both BW and K growth traits, the genetic architecture of K phenotypic variation appears less defined (i.e., fewer major contributing QTL regions were identified compared with BW QTL regions).
Bone mineral density (BMD) is a heritable trait, and in mice, over 100 quantitative trait loci (QTLs) have been reported, but candidate genes have been identified for only a small percentage. Persistent errors in the mouse genetic map have negatively affected QTL localization, spurring the development of a new, corrected map. In this study, QTLs for BMD were remapped in 11 archival mouse data sets using this new genetic map. Since these QTLs all were mapped in a comparable way, direct comparisons of QTLs for concordance would be valid. We then compared human genome-wide association study (GWAS) BMD loci with the mouse QTLs. We found that 26 of the 28 human GWAS loci examined were located within the confidence interval of a mouse QTL. Furthermore, 14 of the GWAS loci mapped to within 3 cM of a mouse QTL peak. Lastly, we demonstrated that these newly remapped mouse QTLs can substantiate a candidate gene for a human GWAS locus, for which the peak single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) fell in an intergenic region. Specifically, we suggest that MEF2C (human chromosome 5, mouse chromosome 13) should be considered a candidate gene for the genetic regulation of BMD. In conclusion, use of the new mouse genetic map has improved the localization of mouse BMD QTLs, and these remapped QTLs show high concordance with human GWAS loci. We believe that this is an opportune time for a renewed effort by the genetics community to identify the causal variants regulating BMD using a synergistic mouse-human approach. © 2010 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
genetic linkage; quantitative trait loci; mouse; human
Identifying genes that underlie quantitative trait loci (QTL) is a challenging task. Here, we present a new QTL software system, named QTL MatchMaker. The system is designed to integrate and mine QTL information across human, mouse and rat genomes and to annotate functional genomic data. It combines and organizes information from relevant public databases and publications and integrates QTL, physical, genetic and cytogenetic maps across human, mouse and rat. To make this application available to the research community we have developed a website for high-throughput mapping of expressed sequences to QTL and for selection of candidate genes in the physiological genomics context of complex traits. QTL MatchMaker is accessible at
We have designed and implemented a web-based database system, called PlantQTL-GE, to facilitate quantitatine traits locus (QTL) based candidate gene identification and gene function analysis. We collected a large number of genes, gene expression information in microarray data and expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and genetic markers from multiple sources of Oryza sativa and Arabidopsis thaliana. The system integrates these diverse data sources and has a uniform web interface for easy access. It supports QTL queries specifying QTL marker intervals or genomic loci, and displays, on rice or Arabidopsis genome, known genes, microarray data, ESTs and candidate genes and similar putative genes in the other plant. Candidate genes in QTL intervals are further annotated based on matching ESTs, microarray gene expression data and cis-elements in regulatory sequences. The system is freely available at .
Functional mapping is a powerful approach for mapping quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that control biological processes. Functional mapping incorporates mathematical aspects of growth and development into a general QTL mapping framework and has been recently integrated with composite interval mapping to build up a so-called composite functional mapping model, aimed to separate multiple linked QTLs on the same chromosomal region.
This article reports the principle of using composite functional mapping to estimate the effects of QTL-environment interactions on growth trajectories by parametrically modeling the tested QTL in a marker interval and nonparametrically modeling the markers outside the interval as co-factors. With this new model, we can characterize the dynamic patterns of the genetic effects of QTLs governing growth trajectories, estimate the global effects of the underlying QTLs during the course of growth and development, and test the differentiation in the shapes of QTL genotype-specific growth curves between different environments. By analyzing a real example from a soybean genome project, our model detects several QTLs that cause significant genotype-environment interactions for plant height growth processes.
The model provides a basis for deciphering the genetic architecture of trait expression adjusted to different biotic and abiotic environments for any organism.
Meta-analysis was performed for three major foliar diseases with the aim to find out the total number of QTL responsible for these diseases and depict some real QTL for molecular breeding and marker assisted selection (MAS) in maize. Furthermore, we confirmed our results with some major known disease resistance genes and most well-known gene family of nucleotide binding site (NBS) encoding genes. Our analysis revealed that disease resistance QTL were randomly distributed in maize genome, but were clustered at different regions of the chromosomes. Totally 389 QTL were observed for these three major diseases in diverse maize germplasm, out of which 63 QTL were controlling more than one disease revealing the presence of multiple disease resistance (MDR). 44 real-QTLs were observed based on 4 QTL as standard in a specific region of genome. We also confirmed the Ht1 and Ht2 genes within the region of real QTL and 14 NBS-encoding genes. On chromosome 8 two NBS genes in one QTL were observed and on chromosome 3, several cluster and maximum MDR QTL were observed indicating that the apparent clustering could be due to genes exhibiting pleiotropic effect. Significant relationship was observed between the number of disease QTL and total genes per chromosome based on the reference genome B73. Therefore, we concluded that disease resistance genes are abundant in maize genome and these results can unleash the phenomenon of MDR. Furthermore, these results could be very handy to focus on hot spot on different chromosome for fine mapping of disease resistance genes and MAS.
Classical quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis and gene expression QTL (eQTL) were combined to identify the causal gene (or QTG) underlying a highly significant QTL controlling the variation of breast meat color in a F2 cross between divergent high-growth (HG) and low-growth (LG) chicken lines. Within this meat quality QTL, BCMO1 (Accession number GenBank: AJ271386), encoding the β-carotene 15, 15′-monooxygenase, a key enzyme in the conversion of β-carotene into colorless retinal, was a good functional candidate. Analysis of the abundance of BCMO1 mRNA in breast muscle of the HG x LG F2 population allowed for the identification of a strong cis eQTL. Moreover, reevaluation of the color QTL taking BCMO1 mRNA levels as a covariate indicated that BCMO1 mRNA levels entirely explained the variations in meat color. Two fully-linked single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) located within the proximal promoter of BCMO1 gene were identified. Haplotype substitution resulted in a marked difference in BCMO1 promoter activity in vitro. The association study in the F2 population revealed a three-fold difference in BCMO1 expression leading to a difference of 1 standard deviation in yellow color between the homozygous birds at this haplotype. This difference in meat yellow color was fully consistent with the difference in carotenoid content (i.e. lutein and zeaxanthin) evidenced between the two alternative haplotypes. A significant association between the haplotype, the level of BCMO1 expression and the yellow color of the meat was also recovered in an unrelated commercial broiler population. The mutation could be of economic importance for poultry production by making possible a gene-assisted selection for color, a determining aspect of meat quality. Moreover, this natural genetic diversity constitutes a new model for the study of β-carotene metabolism which may act upon diverse biological processes as precursor of the vitamin A.
Numerous quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting bone traits have been identified in the mouse; however, few of the underlying genes have been discovered. To improve the process of transitioning from QTL to gene we describe an integrative genetics approach, which combines linkage analysis, expression QTL (eQTL) mapping, causality modeling and genetic association in outbred mice. In C57BL/6J X C3H/HeJ (BXH) F2 mice, nine QTL regulating femoral bone mineral density (BMD) were identified. To select candidate genes from within each QTL region, microarray gene expression profiles from individual F2 mice were used to identify 148 genes whose expression was correlated with BMD and regulated by local eQTL. Many of the genes that were the most highly correlated with BMD have been previously shown to modulate bone mass or skeletal development. Candidates were further prioritized by determining if their expression was predicted to underlie variation in BMD. Using network edge orienting (NEO), a causality modeling algorithm, 18 of the 148 candidates were predicted to be causally related to differences in BMD. To fine-map QTL, markers in outbred MF1 mice were tested for association with BMD. Three chromosome 11 SNPs were identified that were associated with BMD within the Bmd11 QTL. Finally, our approach provides strong support for Wnt9a, Rasd1 or both underlying Bmd11. Integration of multiple genetic and genomic data sets can substantially improve the efficiency of QTL fine-mapping and candidate gene identification.
Quantitative trait locus; bone mineral density; integrative genetics; genetic association; causality
Meta-analysis of QTLs combines the results of several QTL detection studies and provides narrow confidence intervals for meta-QTLs, permitting easier positional candidate gene identification. It is usually applied to multiple mapping populations, but can be applied to one. Here, a meta-analysis of drought related QTLs in the Bala × Azucena mapping population compiles data from 13 experiments and 25 independent screens providing 1,650 individual QTLs separated into 5 trait categories; drought avoidance, plant height, plant biomass, leaf morphology and root traits. A heat map of the overlapping 1 LOD confidence intervals provides an overview of the distribution of QTLs. The programme BioMercator is then used to conduct a formal meta-analysis at example QTL clusters to illustrate the value of meta-analysis of QTLs in this population.
The heat map graphically illustrates the genetic complexity of drought related traits in rice. QTLs can be linked to their physical position on the rice genome using Additional file 1 provided. Formal meta-analysis on chromosome 1, where clusters of QTLs for all trait categories appear close, established that the sd1 semi-dwarfing gene coincided with a plant height meta-QTL, that the drought avoidance meta-QTL was not likely to be associated with this gene, and that this meta-QTL was not pleiotropic with close meta-QTLs for leaf morphology and root traits. On chromosome 5, evidence suggests that a drought avoidance meta-QTL was pleiotropic with leaf morphology and plant biomass meta-QTLs, but not with meta-QTLs for root traits and plant height 10 cM lower down. A region of dense root QTL activity graphically visible on chromosome 9 was dissected into three meta-QTLs within a space of 35 cM. The confidence intervals for meta-QTLs obtained ranged from 5.1 to 14.5 cM with an average of 9.4 cM, which is approximately 180 genes in rice.
The meta-analysis is valuable in providing improved ability to dissect the complex genetic structure of traits, and distinguish between pleiotropy and close linkage. It also provides relatively small target regions for the identification of positional candidate genes.
Recent developments in sequence databases provide the opportunity to relate the expression pattern of genes to their genomic position, thus creating a transcriptome map. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) are phenotypically-defined chromosomal regions that contribute to allelically variant biological traits, and by overlaying QTL on the transcriptome, the search for candidate genes becomes extremely focused.
We used our novel data mining tool, ExQuest, to select genes within known diabesity QTL showing enriched expression in primary diabesity affected tissues. We then quantified transcripts in adipose, pancreas, and liver tissue from Tally Ho mice, a multigenic model for Type II diabetes (T2D), and from diabesity-resistant C57BL/6J controls. Analysis of the resulting quantitative PCR data using the Global Pattern Recognition analytical algorithm identified a number of genes whose expression is altered, and thus are novel candidates for diabesity QTL and/or pathways associated with diabesity.
Transcription-based data mining of genes in QTL-limited intervals followed by efficient quantitative PCR methods is an effective strategy for identifying genes that may contribute to complex pathophysiological processes.
AnnotQTL is a web tool designed to aggregate functional annotations from different prominent web sites by minimizing the redundancy of information. Although thousands of QTL regions have been identified in livestock species, most of them are large and contain many genes. This tool was therefore designed to assist the characterization of genes in a QTL interval region as a step towards selecting the best candidate genes. It localizes the gene to a specific region (using NCBI and Ensembl data) and adds the functional annotations available from other databases (Gene Ontology, Mammalian Phenotype, HGNC and Pubmed). Both human genome and mouse genome can be aligned with the studied region to detect synteny and segment conservation, which is useful for running inter-species comparisons of QTL locations. Finally, custom marker lists can be included in the results display to select the genes that are closest to your most significant markers. We use examples to demonstrate that in just a couple of hours, AnnotQTL is able to identify all the genes located in regions identified by a full genome scan, with some highlighted based on both location and function, thus considerably increasing the chances of finding good candidate genes. AnnotQTL is available at http://annotqtl.genouest.org.
Quantitative phenotypic variation of agronomic characters in crop plants is controlled by environmental and genetic factors (quantitative trait loci = QTL). To understand the molecular basis of such QTL, the identification of the underlying genes is of primary interest and DNA sequence analysis of the genomic regions harboring QTL is a prerequisite for that. QTL mapping in potato (Solanum tuberosum) has identified a region on chromosome V tagged by DNA markers GP21 and GP179, which contains a number of important QTL, among others QTL for resistance to late blight caused by the oomycete Phytophthora infestans and to root cyst nematodes.
To obtain genomic sequence for the targeted region on chromosome V, two local BAC (bacterial artificial chromosome) contigs were constructed and sequenced, which corresponded to parts of the homologous chromosomes of the diploid, heterozygous genotype P6/210. Two contiguous sequences of 417,445 and 202,781 base pairs were assembled and annotated. Gene-by-gene co-linearity was disrupted by non-allelic insertions of retrotransposon elements, stretches of diverged intergenic sequences, differences in gene content and gene order. The latter was caused by inversion of a 70 kbp genomic fragment. These features were also found in comparison to orthologous sequence contigs from three homeologous chromosomes of Solanum demissum, a wild tuber bearing species. Functional annotation of the sequence identified 48 putative open reading frames (ORF) in one contig and 22 in the other, with an average of one ORF every 9 kbp. Ten ORFs were classified as resistance-gene-like, 11 as F-box-containing genes, 13 as transposable elements and three as transcription factors. Comparing potato to Arabidopsis thaliana annotated proteins revealed five micro-syntenic blocks of three to seven ORFs with A. thaliana chromosomes 1, 3 and 5.
Comparative sequence analysis revealed highly conserved collinear regions that flank regions showing high variability and tandem duplicated genes. Sequence annotation revealed that the majority of the ORFs were members of multiple gene families. Comparing potato to Arabidopsis thaliana annotated proteins suggested fragmented structural conservation between these distantly related plant species.
Expression Quantitative Trait Locus (eQTL) mapping methods have been used to identify the genetic basis of gene expression variations. To map eQTL, thousands of expression profiles are related with sequence polymorphisms across the genome through their correlated variations. These eQTL distribute in many chromosomal regions, each of which can include many genes. The large number of mapping results produced makes it difficult to consider simultaneously the relationships between multiple genomic regions and multiple expressional profiles. There is a need for informative bioinformatics tools to assist the visualization and interpretation of these mapping results.
We have developed a web-based tool, called eQTL Viewer, to visualize the relationships between the expression trait genes and the candidate genes in the eQTL regions using Scalable Vector Graphics. The plot generated by eQTL Viewer has the capacity to display mapping results with high resolutions at a variety of scales, and superimpose biological annotations onto the mapping results dynamically.
Our tool provides an efficient and intuitive way for biologists to explore transcriptional regulation patterns, and to generate hypotheses on the genetic basis of transcriptional regulations.
A systematic study has been conducted of all available reports in PubMed and OMIM (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man) to examine the genetic and molecular basis of quantitative genetic loci (QTL) of diabetes with the main focus on genes and polymorphisms. The major question is, What can the QTL tell us? Specifically, we want to know whether those genome regions differ from other regions in terms of genes relevant to diabetes. Which genes are within those QTL regions, and, among them, which genes have already been linked to diabetes? whether more polymorphisms have been associated with diabetes in the QTL regions than in the non-QTL regions.
Our search revealed a total of 9038 genes from 26 type 1 diabetes QTL, which cover 667,096,006 bp of the mouse genomic sequence. On one hand, a large number of candidate genes are in each of these QTL; on the other hand, we found that some obvious candidate genes of QTL have not yet been investigated. Thus, the comprehensive search of candidate genes for known QTL may provide unexpected benefit for identifying QTL genes for diabetes.
Quantitative trait loci; type 1 diabetes; insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM); candidate gene; polymorphism; mouse.
Integrating QTL results from independent experiments performed on related species helps to survey the genetic diversity of loci/alleles underlying complex traits, and to highlight potential targets for breeding or QTL cloning. Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) late blight resistance has been thoroughly studied, generating mapping data for many Rpi-genes (R-genes to Phytophthora infestans) and QTLs (quantitative trait loci). Moreover, late blight resistance was often associated with plant maturity. To get insight into the genomic organization of late blight resistance loci as compared to maturity QTLs, a QTL meta-analysis was performed for both traits.
Nineteen QTL publications for late blight resistance were considered, seven of them reported maturity QTLs. Twenty-one QTL maps and eight reference maps were compiled to construct a 2,141-marker consensus map on which QTLs were projected and clustered into meta-QTLs. The whole-genome QTL meta-analysis reduced by six-fold late blight resistance QTLs (by clustering 144 QTLs into 24 meta-QTLs), by ca. five-fold maturity QTLs (by clustering 42 QTLs into eight meta-QTLs), and by ca. two-fold QTL confidence interval mean. Late blight resistance meta-QTLs were observed on every chromosome and maturity meta-QTLs on only six chromosomes.
Meta-analysis helped to refine the genomic regions of interest frequently described, and provided the closest flanking markers. Meta-QTLs of late blight resistance and maturity juxtaposed along chromosomes IV, V and VIII, and overlapped on chromosomes VI and XI. The distribution of late blight resistance meta-QTLs is significantly independent from those of Rpi-genes, resistance gene analogs and defence-related loci. The anchorage of meta-QTLs to the potato genome sequence, recently publicly released, will especially improve the candidate gene selection to determine the genes underlying meta-QTLs. All mapping data are available from the Sol Genomics Network (SGN) database.
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 ≥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 (≥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.
The Rat Genome Database (RGD) is the premier resource for genetic, genomic and phenotype data for the laboratory rat, Rattus norvegicus. In addition to organizing biological data from rats, the RGD team focuses on manual curation of gene–disease associations for rat, human and mouse. In this work, we have analyzed disease-associated strains, quantitative trait loci (QTL) and genes from rats. These disease objects form the basis for seven disease portals. Among disease portals, the cardiovascular disease and obesity/metabolic syndrome portals have the highest number of rat strains and QTL. These two portals share 398 rat QTL, and these shared QTL are highly concentrated on rat chromosomes 1 and 2. For disease-associated genes, we performed gene ontology (GO) enrichment analysis across portals using RatMine enrichment widgets. Fifteen GO terms, five from each GO aspect, were selected to profile enrichment patterns of each portal. Of the selected biological process (BP) terms, ‘regulation of programmed cell death’ was the top enriched term across all disease portals except in the obesity/metabolic syndrome portal where ‘lipid metabolic process’ was the most enriched term. ‘Cytosol’ and ‘nucleus’ were common cellular component (CC) annotations for disease genes, but only the cancer portal genes were highly enriched with ‘nucleus’ annotations. Similar enrichment patterns were observed in a parallel analysis using the DAVID functional annotation tool. The relationship between the preselected 15 GO terms and disease terms was examined reciprocally by retrieving rat genes annotated with these preselected terms. The individual GO term–annotated gene list showed enrichment in physiologically related diseases. For example, the ‘regulation of blood pressure’ genes were enriched with cardiovascular disease annotations, and the ‘lipid metabolic process’ genes with obesity annotations. Furthermore, we were able to enhance enrichment of neurological diseases by combining ‘G-protein coupled receptor binding’ annotated genes with ‘protein kinase binding’ annotated genes.