Genetic Basis of Transcriptome Diversity in Drosophila melanogaster

Genetic Basis of Transcriptome Diversity in Drosophila melanogaster

Wen Huang , Mary Anna Carbone , Michael Magwire , Jason Peiffer , Richard Lyman , Eric Stone , Robert Anholt , Trudy Mackay

Understanding how DNA sequence variation is translated into variation for complex phenotypes has remained elusive, but is essential for predicting adaptive evolution, selecting agriculturally important animals and crops, and personalized medicine. Here, we quantified genome-wide variation in gene expression in the sequenced inbred lines of the Drosophila melanogaster Genetic Reference Panel (DGRP). We found that a substantial fraction of the Drosophila transcriptome is genetically variable and organized into modules of genetically correlated transcripts, which provide functional context for newly identified transcribed regions. We identified regulatory variants for the mean and variance of gene expression, the latter of which could often be explained by an epistatic model. Expression quantitative trait loci for the mean, but not the variance, of gene expression were concentrated near genes. This comprehensive characterization of population scale diversity of transcriptomes and its genetic basis in the DGRP is critically important for a systems understanding of quantitative trait variation.

Fulfilling the promise of Mendelian randomization

Fulfilling the promise of Mendelian randomization

Joseph Pickrell

Many important questions in medicine involve questions about causality, For example, do low levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cause heart disease? Does high body mass index (BMI) cause type 2 diabetes? Or are these traits simply correlated in the population for other reasons? A popular approach to answering these problems using human genetics is called “Mendelian randomization”. We discuss the prospects and limitations of this approach, and some ways forward.

Genomic prediction of celiac disease targeting HLA-positive individuals

Genomic prediction of celiac disease targeting HLA-positive individuals

Gad Abraham , Alexia Rohmer , Jason A Tye-Din , Michael Inouye

Background: Genomic prediction aims to leverage genome-wide genetic data towards better disease diagnostics and risk scores. We have previously published a genomic risk score (GRS) for celiac disease (CD), a common and highly heritable autoimmune disease, which differentiates between CD cases and population-based controls at a clinically-relevant predictive level, improving upon other gene-based approaches. HLA risk haplotypes, particularly HLA-DQ2.5, are necessary but not sufficient for CD, with at least one HLA risk haplotype present in up to half of most Caucasian populations. Here, we assess a genomic prediction strategy that specifically targets this common genetic susceptibility subtype, utilizing a supervised learning procedure for CD that leverages known HLA-DQ2.5 risk. Methods: Using L1/L2-regularized support-vector machines trained on large European case-control datasets, we constructed novel CD GRSs specific to individuals with HLA-DQ2.5 risk haplotypes (GRS-DQ2.5) and compared them with the predictive power of the existing CD GRS (GRS14) as well as two haplotype-based approaches, externally validating the results in a North American case-control study. Results: Consistent with previous observations, both the existing GRS14 and the GRS-DQ2.5 had better predictive performance than the HLA haplotype approaches. GRS-DQ2.5 models, based on directly genotyped or imputed markers, achieved similar levels of predictive performance (AUC = 0.718—0.73), which were substantially higher than those obtained from the DQ2.5 zygosity alone (AUC = 0.558), the HLA risk haplotype method (AUC = 0.634), or the generic GRS14 (AUC = 0.679). In a screening model of at-risk individuals, the GRS-DQ2.5 lowered the number of unnecessary follow-up tests for CD across most sensitivity levels. Relative to a baseline implicating all DQ2.5-positive individuals for follow-up, the GRS-DQ2.5 resulted in a net saving of 2.2 unnecessary follow-up tests for each justified test while still capturing 90% of DQ2.5-positive CD cases. Conclusions: Genomic risk scores for CD that target genetically at-risk sub-groups improve predictive performance beyond traditional approaches and may represent a useful strategy for prioritizing individuals at increase risk of disease, thus potentially reducing unnecessary follow-up diagnostic tests.

Threshold trait architecture of Hsp90-buffered variation

Threshold trait architecture of Hsp90-buffered variation

Charles C Carey , Kristen F Gorman , Becky Howsmon , Charles Kooperberg , Aaron K Aragaki , Suzannah Rutherford

Common genetic variants buffered by Hsp90 are candidates for human diseases of signaling such as cancer. Like cancer, morphological abnormalities buffered by Hsp90 are discrete threshold traits with a continuous underlying basis of liability determining their probability of occurrence. QTL and deletion maps for one of the most frequent Hsp90-dependent abnormalities in Drosophila, deformed eye (dfe), were replicated across three genetically related artificial selection lines using strategies dependent on proximity to the dfe threshold and the direction of genetic and environmental effects. Up to 17 dfe loci (QTL) linked by 7 interactions were detected based on the ability of small recombinant regions of an unaffected and completely homozygous control genotype to dominantly suppress or enhance dfe penetrance at its threshold in groups of isogenic recombinant flies, and over 20 deletions increased dfe penetrance from a low expected value in one or more line, identifying a complex network of genes responsible for the dfe phenotype. Replicated comparisons of these whole-genome mapping approaches identified several QTL regions narrowly defined by deletions and 4 candidate genes, with additional uncorrelated QTL and deletions highlighting differences between the approaches and the need for caution in attributing the effect of deletions directly to QTL genes.

The origins of a novel butterfly wing patterning gene from within a family of conserved cell cycle regulators

The origins of a novel butterfly wing patterning gene from within a family of conserved cell cycle regulators

Nicola Nadeau , Carolina Pardo-Diaz , Annabel Whibley , Megan Ann Supple , Richard Wallbank , Grace C. Wu , Luana Maroja , Laura Ferguson , Heather Hines , Camilo Salazar , Richard ffrench-Constant , Mathieu Joron , William Owen McMillan , Chris Jiggins

A major challenge in evolutionary biology is to understand the origins of novel structures. The wing patterns of butterflies and moths are derived phenotypes unique to the Lepidoptera. Here we identify a gene that we name poikilomousa (poik), which regulates colour pattern switches in the mimetic Heliconius butterflies. Strong associations between phenotypic variation and DNA sequence variation are seen in three different Heliconius species, in addition to associations between gene expression and colour pattern. Colour pattern variants are also associated with differences in splicing of poik transcripts. poik is a member of the conserved fizzy family of cell cycle regulators. It belongs to a faster evolving subfamily, the closest functionally characterised orthologue being the cortex gene in Drosophila, a female germ-line specific protein involved in meiosis. poik appears to have adopted a novel function in the Lepidoptera and become a major target for natural selection acting on colour and pattern variation in this group.

SumVg: Total heritability explained by all variants in genome-wide association studies based on summary

SumVg: Total heritability explained by all variants in genome-wide association studies based on summary statistics with standard error estimates
Hon-Cheong SO , Pak C. SHAM

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have become increasingly popular these days and one of the key questions is how much heritability could be explained by all variants in GWAS. We have previously proposed an approach to answer this question, based on recovering the “true” z-statistics from a set of observed z-statistics. Only summary statistics are required. However, methods for standard error (SE) estimation are not available yet, thereby limiting the interpretation of the results. In this study we developed resampling-based approaches to estimate the SE and the methods are implemented in an R package. We found that delete-d-jackknife and parametric bootstrap approaches provide good estimates of the SE. Methods to compute the sum of heritability explained and the corresponding SE are implemented in the R package SumVg, available at

The advent of genome-wide association studies for bacteria

The advent of genome-wide association studies for bacteria
Peter E Chen , B Jesse Shapiro

Significant advances in sequencing technologies and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed substantial insight into the genetic architecture of human phenotypes. In recent years, the application of this approach in bacteria has begun to reveal the genetic basis of bacterial host preference, antibiotic resistance, and virulence. Here, we consider relevant differences between bacterial and human genome dynamics, apply GWAS to a global sample of Mycobacterium tuberculosis genomes to highlight the impacts of linkage disequilibrium, population stratification, and natural selection, and finally compare the traditional GWAS against phyC, a contrasting method of mapping genotype to phenotype based upon evolutionary convergence. We discuss strengths and weaknesses of both methods, and make suggestions for factors to be considered in future bacterial GWAS.