Epistasis Blog

From the Computational Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania (www.epistasis.org)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The complex underpinnings of genetic background effects

A nice new paper on epistasis is yeast.

Mullis MN, Matsui T, Schell R, Foree R, Ehrenreich IM. The complex underpinnings of genetic background effects. Nat Commun. 2018 Sep 17;9(1):3548. [PubMed]

Genetic interactions between mutations and standing polymorphisms can cause mutations to show distinct phenotypic effects in different individuals. To characterize the genetic architecture of these so-called background effects, we genotype 1411 wild-type and mutant yeast cross progeny and measure their growth in 10 environments. Using these data, we map 1086 interactions between segregating loci and 7 different gene knockouts. Each knockout exhibits between 73 and 543 interactions, with 89% of all interactions involving higher-order epistasis between a knockout and multiple loci. Identified loci interact with as few as one knockout and as many as all seven knockouts. In mutants, loci interacting with fewer and more knockouts tend to show enhanced and reduced phenotypic effects, respectively. Cross-environment analysis reveals that most interactions between the knockouts and segregating loci also involve the environment. These results illustrate the complicated interactions between mutations, standing polymorphisms, and the environment that cause background effects.

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