BMC Genomics (2010-06-01)

Genotype and expression analysis of two inbred mouse strains and two derived congenic strains suggest that most gene expression is <it>trans </it>regulated and sensitive to genetic background

  • Hall Laurence,
  • Gibson John,
  • Brass Andy,
  • Archibald Alan L,
  • Anderson Susan,
  • Agaba Morris,
  • Noyes Harry A,
  • Hulme Helen,
  • Oh Sung,
  • Kemp Stephen

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 1
p. 361


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Abstract Background Differences in gene expression may be caused by nearby DNA polymorphisms (cis regulation) or by interactions of gene control regions with polymorphic transcription factors (trans regulation). Trans acting loci are much harder to detect than cis acting loci and their effects are much more sensitive to genetic background. Results To quantify cis and trans regulation we correlated haplotype data with gene expression in two inbred mouse strains and two derived congenic lines. Upstream haplotype differences between the parental strains suggested that 30-43% of differentially expressed genes were differentially expressed because of cis haplotype differences. These cis regulated genes displayed consistent and relatively tissue-independent differential expression. We independently estimated from the congenic mice that 71-85% of genes were trans regulated. Cis regulated genes were associated with low p values (p trans regulated genes were associated with values 0.005 trans regulation but this was not observable in the parental mice. Conclusions The evidence that most gene regulation is trans and strongly influenced by genetic background, suggests that pathways that are modified by an allelic variant, may only exhibit differential expression in the specific genetic backgrounds in which they were identified. This has significant implications for the interpretation of any QTL mapping study.