Extensive cis-regulatory variation robust to environmental perturbation in Arabidopsis

Plant Cell. 2014 Nov;26(11):4298-310. doi: 10.1105/tpc.114.130310. Epub 2014 Nov 26.


cis- and trans-acting factors affect gene expression and responses to environmental conditions. However, for most plant systems, we lack a comprehensive map of these factors and their interaction with environmental variation. Here, we examined allele-specific expression (ASE) in an F1 hybrid to study how alleles from two Arabidopsis thaliana accessions affect gene expression. To investigate the effect of the environment, we used drought stress and developed a variance component model to estimate the combined genetic contributions of cis- and trans-regulatory polymorphisms, environmental factors, and their interactions. We quantified ASE for 11,003 genes, identifying 3318 genes with consistent ASE in control and stress conditions, demonstrating that cis-acting genetic effects are essentially robust to changes in the environment. Moreover, we found 1618 genes with genotype x environment (GxE) interactions, mostly cis x E interactions with magnitude changes in ASE. We found fewer trans x E interactions, but these effects were relatively less robust across conditions, showing more changes in the direction of the effect between environments; this confirms that trans-regulation plays an important role in the response to environmental conditions. Our data provide a detailed map of cis- and trans-regulation and GxE interactions in A. thaliana, laying the ground for mechanistic investigations and studies in other plants and environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / physiology
  • Droughts
  • Environment
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Regulatory Elements, Transcriptional / genetics*