Systems genetics approaches to understand complex traits

Nat Rev Genet. 2014 Jan;15(1):34-48. doi: 10.1038/nrg3575. Epub 2013 Dec 3.


Systems genetics is an approach to understand the flow of biological information that underlies complex traits. It uses a range of experimental and statistical methods to quantitate and integrate intermediate phenotypes, such as transcript, protein or metabolite levels, in populations that vary for traits of interest. Systems genetics studies have provided the first global view of the molecular architecture of complex traits and are useful for the identification of genes, pathways and networks that underlie common human diseases. Given the urgent need to understand how the thousands of loci that have been identified in genome-wide association studies contribute to disease susceptibility, systems genetics is likely to become an increasingly important approach to understanding both biology and disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epistasis, Genetic / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics*
  • Genetic Loci / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Genetic Techniques*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study / methods
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Phenotype*
  • Systems Biology / methods*