Genetic Variation in Complex Traits in Transgenic α-Synuclein Strains of Caenorhabditis elegans

Yiru Wang, L. van Sluijs, Yu Nie, M.G. Sterken, Simon C. Harvey, J.E. Kammenga*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Different genetic backgrounds can modify the effect of mutated genes. Human α-synuclein (SNCA) gene encodes α-synuclein, and its oligomeric complexes accumulate with age and mediate the disruption of cellular homeostasis, resulting in the neuronal death that is characteristic of Parkinson’s Disease. Polymorphic variants modulate this complex pathologic mechanism. Previously, we constructed five transgenic introgression lines of a Caenorhabditis elegans model of α-synuclein using genetic backgrounds that are genetically diverse from the canonical wild-type Bristol N2. A gene expression analysis revealed that the α-synuclein transgene differentially affects genome-wide transcription due to background modifiers. To further investigate how complex traits are affected in these transgenic lines, we measured the α-synuclein transgene expression, the overall accumulation of the fusion protein of α-synuclein and yellow fluorescent protein (YFP), the lysosome-related organelles, and the body size. By using quantitative PCR (qPCR), we demonstrated stable and similar expression levels of the α-synuclein transgene in different genetic backgrounds. Strikingly, we observed that the levels of the a-synuclein:YFP fusion protein vary in different genetic backgrounds by using the COPAS™ biosorter. The quantification of the Nile Red staining assay demonstrates that α-synuclein also affects lysosome-related organelles and body size. Our results show that the same α-synuclein introgression in different C. elegans backgrounds can produces differing effects on complex traits due to background modifiers. View Full-Text
Original languageEnglish
Article number778
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2020


  • C. elegans
  • Genetic background
  • Protein accumulation
  • α-synuclein


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