Combined expression trait correlations and expression quantitative trait locus mapping

PLoS Genet. 2006 Jan;2(1):e6. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.0020006. Epub 2006 Jan 20.


Coordinated regulation of gene expression levels across a series of experimental conditions provides valuable information about the functions of correlated transcripts. The consideration of gene expression correlation over a time or tissue dimension has proved valuable in predicting gene function. Here, we consider correlations over a genetic dimension. In addition to identifying coregulated genes, the genetic dimension also supplies us with information about the genomic locations of putative regulatory loci. We calculated correlations among approximately 45,000 expression traits derived from 60 individuals in an F2 sample segregating for obesity and diabetes. By combining the correlation results with linkage mapping information, we were able to identify regulatory networks, make functional predictions for uncharacterized genes, and characterize novel members of known pathways. We found evidence of coordinate regulation of 174 G protein-coupled receptor protein signaling pathway expression traits. Of the 174 traits, 50 had their major LOD peak within 10 cM of a locus on Chromosome 2, and 81 others had a secondary peak in this region. We also characterized a Riken cDNA clone that showed strong correlation with stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 expression. Experimental validation confirmed that this clone is involved in the regulation of lipid metabolism. We conclude that trait correlation combined with linkage mapping can reveal regulatory networks that would otherwise be missed if we studied only mRNA traits with statistically significant linkages in this small cross. The combined analysis is more sensitive compared with linkage mapping alone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Lod Score
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Models, Genetic
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*