Revealing the architecture of gene regulation: the promise of eQTL studies

Trends Genet. 2008 Aug;24(8):408-15. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2008.06.001. Epub 2008 Jul 1.


Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) mapping studies have become a widely used tool for identifying genetic variants that affect gene regulation. In these studies, expression levels are viewed as quantitative traits, and gene expression phenotypes are mapped to particular genomic loci by combining studies of variation in gene expression patterns with genome-wide genotyping. Results from recent eQTL mapping studies have revealed substantial heritable variation in gene expression within and between populations. In many cases, genetic factors that influence gene expression levels can be mapped to proximal (putatively cis) eQTLs and, less often, to distal (putatively trans) eQTLs. Beyond providing great insight into the biology of gene regulation, a combination of eQTL studies with results from traditional linkage or association studies of human disease may help predict a specific regulatory role for polymorphic sites previously associated with disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*