Gene Expression Architecture of Mouse Dorsal and Tail Skin Reveals Functional Differences in Inflammation and Cancer

Cell Rep. 2016 Jul 26;16(4):1153-1165. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.06.061. Epub 2016 Jul 14.


Inherited germline polymorphisms can cause gene expression levels in normal tissues to differ substantially between individuals. We present an analysis of the genetic architecture of normal adult skin from 470 genetically unique mice, demonstrating the effect of germline variants, skin tissue location, and perturbation by exogenous inflammation or tumorigenesis on gene signaling pathways. Gene networks related to specific cell types and signaling pathways, including sonic hedgehog (Shh), Wnt, Lgr family stem cell markers, and keratins, differed at these tissue sites, suggesting mechanisms for the differential susceptibility of dorsal and tail skin to development of skin diseases and tumorigenesis. The Pten tumor suppressor gene network is rewired in premalignant tumors compared to normal tissue, but this response to perturbation is lost during malignant progression. We present a software package for expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) network analysis and demonstrate how network analysis of whole tissues provides insights into interactions between cell compartments and signaling molecules.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis / genetics*
  • Carcinogenesis / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Expression / genetics*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Germ Cells / physiology
  • Inflammation / genetics*
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*