Journal Article

Expression quantitative trait loci detected in cell lines are often present in primary tissues

Kevin Bullaughey, Claudia I. Chavarria, Graham Coop and Yoav Gilad

in Human Molecular Genetics

Volume 18, issue 22, pages 4296-4303
Published in print November 2009 | ISSN: 0964-6906
Published online August 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2083 | DOI:
Expression quantitative trait loci detected in cell lines are often present in primary tissues

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Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) mapping is a powerful tool for identifying genetic regulatory variation. However, at present, most eQTLs in humans were identified using gene expression data from cell lines, and it remains unknown whether these eQTLs also have a regulatory function in other expression contexts, such as human primary tissues. Here we investigate this question using a targeted strategy. Specifically, we selected a subset of large-effect eQTLs identified in the HapMap lymphoblastoid cell lines, and examined the association of these eQTLs with gene expression levels across individuals in five human primary tissues (heart, kidney, liver, lung and testes). We show that genotypes at the eQTLs we selected are often predictive of variation in gene expression levels in one or more of the five primary tissues. The genotype effects in the primary tissues are consistently in the same direction as the effects inferred in the cell lines. Additionally, a number of the eQTLs we tested are found in more than one of the tissues. Our results indicate that functional studies in cell lines may uncover a substantial amount of genetic variation that affects gene expression levels in human primary tissues.

Journal Article.  5636 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics

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