We surveyed gene expression in six tissues in an F2 intercross between mouse strains C57BL/6J (abbreviated B6) and BTBR T(+) tf/J (abbreviated BTBR) made genetically obese with the Leptin(ob) mutation. We identified a number of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) affecting the expression of numerous genes distal to the locus, called trans-eQTL hotspots. Some of these trans-eQTL hotspots showed effects in multiple tissues, whereas some were specific to a single tissue. An unusually large number of transcripts (∼8% of genes) mapped in trans to a hotspot on chromosome 6, specifically in pancreatic islets. By considering the first two principal components of the expression of genes mapping to this region, we were able to convert the multivariate phenotype into a simple Mendelian trait. Fine mapping the locus by traditional methods reduced the QTL interval to a 298-kb region containing only three genes, including Slco1a6, one member of a large family of organic anion transporters. Direct genomic sequencing of all Slco1a6 exons identified a nonsynonymous coding SNP that converts a highly conserved proline residue at amino acid position 564 to serine. Molecular modeling suggests that Pro564 faces an aqueous pore within this 12-transmembrane domain-spanning protein. When transiently overexpressed in HEK293 cells, BTBR organic anion transporting polypeptide (OATP)1A6-mediated cellular uptake of the bile acid taurocholic acid (TCA) was enhanced compared to B6 OATP1A6. Our results suggest that genetic variation in Slco1a6 leads to altered transport of TCA (and potentially other bile acids) by pancreatic islets, resulting in broad gene regulation.
Keywords: diabetes; eQTL; fine mapping; obesity; positional cloning.
Copyright © 2015 by the Genetics Society of America.