The number and distribution of gene expression QTL (eQTL) represent the genetic architecture of many complex traits, including common human diseases. We previously reported that the heritable eQTL patterns are highly dynamic with age in an N2 × CB4856 recombinant inbred population of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. In particular, we showed that the number of eQTL decreased with age. Here, we investigated the reason for this decrease by combining gene expression profiles at three ages in the wild types N2 and CB4856 with the reported expression profiles of the RIL population. We determined heritability and transgression (when gene expression levels in the RILs are more extreme than the parents) and investigated their relation with eQTL changes with age. Transgressive segregation was widespread but depended on physiological age. The percentage of genes with an eQTL increased with a higher heritability in young worms. However, for old worms this percentage hardly increased. Using a single marker approach, we found that almost 20% of genes with heritability >0.9 had an eQTL in developing worms. Surprisingly, only 10% was found in old worms. Using a multimarker approach, this percentage increased to almost 30% for both age groups. Comparison of the single marker to a multiple marker eQTL mapping indicated that heritable regulation of gene expression becomes more polygenic in aging worms due to multiple loci and possible epistatic interactions. We conclude that linkage studies should account for the relation between increased polygenic regulation and diminished effects at older ages.
- quantitative trait loci
- cdna microarray data
- life-history traits
Viñuela Rodriguez, A., Snoek, L. B., Riksen, J. A. G., & Kammenga, J. E. (2012). Aging Uncouples Heritability and Expression-QTL in Caenorhabditis elegans. G3 : Genes Genomes Genetics, 2(5), 597-605. https://doi.org/10.1534/g3.112.002212