Integrative analysis of low- and high-resolution eQTL

PLoS One. 2010 Nov 10;5(11):e13920. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013920.


The study of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) is a powerful way of detecting transcriptional regulators at a genomic scale and for elucidating how natural genetic variation impacts gene expression. Power and genetic resolution are heavily affected by the study population: whereas recombinant inbred (RI) strains yield greater statistical power with low genetic resolution, using diverse inbred or outbred strains improves genetic resolution at the cost of lower power. In order to overcome the limitations of both individual approaches, we combine data from RI strains with genetically more diverse strains and analyze hippocampus eQTL data obtained from mouse RI strains (BXD) and from a panel of diverse inbred strains (Mouse Diversity Panel, MDP). We perform a systematic analysis of the consistency of eQTL independently obtained from these two populations and demonstrate that a significant fraction of eQTL can be replicated. Based on existing knowledge from pathway databases we assess different approaches for using the high-resolution MDP data for fine mapping BXD eQTL. Finally, we apply this framework to an eQTL hotspot on chromosome 1 (Qrr1), which has been implicated in a range of neurological traits. Here we present the first systematic examination of the consistency between eQTL obtained independently from the BXD and MDP populations. Our analysis of fine-mapping approaches is based on 'real life' data as opposed to simulated data and it allows us to propose a strategy for using MDP data to fine map BXD eQTL. Application of this framework to Qrr1 reveals that this eQTL hotspot is not caused by just one (or few) 'master regulators', but actually by a set of polymorphic genes specific to the central nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping / methods*
  • Chromosomes, Mammalian / genetics*
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genome / genetics*
  • Inbreeding
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics*