Nils Kolling, Postdoctoral Fellow onQuantitative genetics of gene expression during animal development

Speaker Name: 
Nils Kolling
Speaker Title: 
Postdoctoral Fellow
Start Time: 
Friday, January 29, 2016 - 12:00
End Time: 
Friday, January 29, 2016 - 13:00
215 Engineering 2
David Haussler

The processes controlling embryonic development must work within two balancing constraints. To ensure individual viability, development must produce stereotypically patterned embryos in the face of environmental variation and segregating mutations. In spite of these constraints, species adapt through changing these robust developmental programs, showing their flexibility at this timescale.

To better understand this dichotomy, we created an embryonic gene expression dataset in 76 genetically diverse, inbred lines from the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel (DGRP), representing a single, natural population of fruit flies. This allowed us to collect measurements at three different developmental stages for individuals with identical genotypes. We uncovered extensive genetic variation underlying changes in expression levels (eQTLs) among the 76 lines using a linear mixed model framework that accounts for developmental stage and population structure. Surprisingly, although we found fewer eQTLs for genes known to be involved in development than for others, there were still developmental genes with strong eQTLs. Furthermore, we discovered a number of developmental stage-specific eQTLs that identify regulatory elements with time point specific activity.

A major benefit of the DRGP is that the linkage disequilibrium (LD) structure is short (on average r2 <0.2 within tens of bp), which means that for around 50% of our eQTLs we can identify a single likely causal variant. This resolution allows us to explore the functional properties of these eQTLs. Many are near promoters, and associated with known transcription factor motifs. However we also see enrichment for eQTLs in known developmental enhancers at some distance from the promoter.


photo: flickr


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