Global variation in gene expression and the value of diverse sampling

Curr Opin Syst Biol. 2017 Feb:1:102-108. doi: 10.1016/j.coisb.2016.12.018. Epub 2017 Mar 3.


The genomics era has accelerated our understanding of how genetic and epigenetic factors influence both normal variable traits and disease risk in humans. However, the majority of "omics" studies have focused on individuals living in urban centers, primarily from Europe and Asia, neglecting much of the genetic and environmental variation that exists across worldwide populations. Comparative studies of gene regulation in ethnically diverse populations are informing our understanding of how evolutionary forces have shaped the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying complex traits, and studying gene expression in different environmental contexts is enabling the dissection of disease-related pathways such as immune response. Such approaches are vital to the equitable application of genomics and medicine.