Publications by authors named "Christy J Vander Jagt"

14 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Global Changes in Asexual Transcriptomes during the Early Stages, from Seed to Seedling, of Symbiotum Establishment.

Microorganisms 2021 May 4;9(5). Epub 2021 May 4.

Agriculture Victoria, AgriBio, Centre for AgriBioscience, Bundoora, VIC 3083, Australia.

Asexual fungi are strictly seed-transmitted endophytic symbionts of cool-season grasses and spend their entire life cycle within the host plant. Endophyte infection can confer protective benefits to its host through the production of bioprotective compounds. Inversely, plants provide nourishment and shelter to the resident endophyte in return. Current understanding of the changes in global gene expression of asexual endophytes during the early stages of host-endophyte symbiotum is limited. A time-course study using a deep RNA-sequencing approach was performed at six stages of germination, using seeds infected with one of three endophyte strains belonging to different representative taxa. Analysis of the most abundantly expressed endophyte genes identified that most were predicted to have a role in stress and defence responses. The number of differentially expressed genes observed at early time points was greater than those detected at later time points, suggesting an active transcriptional reprogramming of endophytes at the onset of seed germination. Gene ontology enrichment analysis revealed dynamic changes in global gene expression consistent with the developmental processes of symbiotic relationships. Expression of pathway genes for biosynthesis of key secondary metabolites was studied comprehensively and fuzzy clustering identified some unique expression patterns. Furthermore, comparisons of the transcriptomes from three endophyte strains in planta identified genes unique to each strain, including genes predicted to be associated with secondary metabolism. Findings from this study highlight the importance of better understanding the unique properties of individual endophyte strains and will serve as an excellent resource for future studies of host-endophyte interactions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9050991DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8147782PMC
May 2021

Demographic history, adaptation, and NRAP convergent evolution at amino acid residue 100 in the world northernmost cattle from Siberia.

Mol Biol Evol 2021 Mar 30. Epub 2021 Mar 30.

Royal Veterinary College, University of London, London, UK.

Native cattle breeds represent an important cultural heritage. They are a reservoir of genetic variation useful for properly responding to agriculture needs in light of ongoing climate changes. Evolutionary processes that occur in response to extreme environmental conditions could also be better understood using adapted local populations. Herein, different evolutionary histories of the world northernmost native cattle breeds from Russia were investigated. They highlighted Kholmogory as a typical taurine cattle, while Yakut cattle separated from European taurines ∼5,000 years ago and contain numerous ancestral and some novel genetic variants allowing their adaptation to harsh conditions of living above the Polar Circle. Scans for selection signatures pointed to several common gene pathways related to adaptation to harsh climates in both breeds. But genes affected by selection from these pathways were mostly different. A Yakut cattle breed-specific missense mutation in a highly conserved NRAP gene, represents a unique example of a young amino acid residue convergent change shared with at least 16 species of hibernating/cold-adapted mammals from six distinct phylogenetic orders. This suggests a convergent evolution event along the mammalian phylogenetic tree and fast fixation in a single isolated cattle population exposed to a harsh climate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msab078DOI Listing
March 2021

Expression quantitative trait loci in sheep liver and muscle contribute to variations in meat traits.

Genet Sel Evol 2021 Jan 18;53(1). Epub 2021 Jan 18.

Agriculture Victoria, AgriBio, Centre for AgriBioscience, Bundoora, VIC, 3083, Australia.

Background: Variants that regulate transcription, such as expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL), have shown enrichment in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for mammalian complex traits. However, no study has reported eQTL in sheep, although it is an important agricultural species for which many GWAS of complex meat traits have been conducted. Using RNA sequence data produced from liver and muscle from 149 sheep and imputed whole-genome single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), our aim was to dissect the genetic architecture of the transcriptome by associating sheep genotypes with three major molecular phenotypes including gene expression (geQTL), exon expression (eeQTL) and RNA splicing (sQTL). We also examined these three types of eQTL for their enrichment in GWAS of multi-meat traits and fatty acid profiles.

Results: Whereas a relatively small number of molecular phenotypes were significantly heritable (h > 0, P < 0.05), their mean heritability ranged from 0.67 to 0.73 for liver and from 0.71 to 0.77 for muscle. Association analysis between molecular phenotypes and SNPs within ± 1 Mb identified many significant cis-eQTL (false discovery rate, FDR < 0.01). The median distance between the eQTL and transcription start sites (TSS) ranged from 68 to 153 kb across the three eQTL types. The number of common variants between geQTL, eeQTL and sQTL within each tissue, and the number of common variants between liver and muscle within each eQTL type were all significantly (P < 0.05) larger than expected by chance. The identified eQTL were significantly (P < 0.05) enriched in GWAS hits associated with 56 carcass traits and fatty acid profiles. For example, several geQTL in muscle mapped to the FAM184B gene, hundreds of sQTL in liver and muscle mapped to the CAST gene, and hundreds of sQTL in liver mapped to the C6 gene. These three genes are associated with body composition or fatty acid profiles.

Conclusions: We detected a large number of significant eQTL and found that the overlap of variants between eQTL types and tissues was prevalent. Many eQTL were also QTL for meat traits. Our study fills a gap in the knowledge on the regulatory variants and their role in complex traits for the sheep model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12711-021-00602-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7812657PMC
January 2021

Mitochondrial protein gene expression and the oxidative phosphorylation pathway associated with feed efficiency and energy balance in dairy cattle.

J Dairy Sci 2021 Jan 6;104(1):575-587. Epub 2020 Nov 6.

School of Applied Systems Biology, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia, 3083; Agriculture Victoria, AgriBio, Centre for AgriBioscience, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia, 3083.

Feed efficiency and energy balance are important traits underpinning profitability and environmental sustainability in animal production. They are complex traits, and our understanding of their underlying biology is currently limited. One measure of feed efficiency is residual feed intake (RFI), which is the difference between actual and predicted intake. Variation in RFI among individuals is attributable to the metabolic efficiency of energy utilization. High RFI (H_RFI) animals require more energy per unit of weight gain or milk produced compared with low RFI (L_RFI) animals. Energy balance (EB) is a closely related trait calculated very similarly to RFI. Cellular energy metabolism in mitochondria involves mitochondrial protein (MiP) encoded by both nuclear (NuMiP) and mitochondrial (MtMiP) genomes. We hypothesized that MiP genes are differentially expressed (DE) between H_RFI and L_RFI animal groups and similarly between negative and positive EB groups. Our study aimed to characterize MiP gene expression in white blood cells of H_RFI and L_RFI cows using RNA sequencing to identify genes and biological pathways associated with feed efficiency in dairy cattle. We used the top and bottom 14 cows ranked for RFI and EB out of 109 animals as H_RFI and L_RFI, and positive and negative EB groups, respectively. The gene expression counts across all nuclear and mitochondrial genes for animals in each group were used for differential gene expression analyses, weighted gene correlation network analysis, functional enrichment, and identification of hub genes. Out of 244 DE genes between RFI groups, 38 were MiP genes. The DE genes were enriched for the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and ribosome pathways. The DE MiP genes were underexpressed in L_RFI (and negative EB) compared with the H_RFI (and positive EB) groups, suggestive of reduced mitochondrial activity in the L_RFI group. None of the MtMiP genes were among the DE MiP genes between the groups, which suggests a non-rate limiting role of MtMiP genes in feed efficiency and warrants further investigation. The role of MiP, particularly the NuMiP and OXPHOS pathways in RFI, was also supported by our gene correlation network analysis and the hub gene identification. We validated the findings in an independent data set. Overall, our study suggested that differences in feed efficiency in dairy cows may be linked to differences in cellular energy demand. This study broadens our knowledge of the biology of feed efficiency in dairy cattle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3168/jds.2020-18503DOI Listing
January 2021

Expression of mitochondrial protein genes encoded by nuclear and mitochondrial genomes correlate with energy metabolism in dairy cattle.

BMC Genomics 2020 Oct 19;21(1):720. Epub 2020 Oct 19.

School of Applied Systems Biology, La Trobe University, Bundoora, VIC, 3083, Australia.

Background: Mutations in the mitochondrial genome have been implicated in mitochondrial disease, often characterized by impaired cellular energy metabolism. Cellular energy metabolism in mitochondria involves mitochondrial proteins (MP) from both the nuclear (NuMP) and mitochondrial (MtMP) genomes. The expression of MP genes in tissues may be tissue specific to meet varying specific energy demands across the tissues. Currently, the characteristics of MP gene expression in tissues of dairy cattle are not well understood. In this study, we profile the expression of MP genes in 29 adult and six foetal tissues in dairy cattle using RNA sequencing and gene expression analyses: particularly differential gene expression and co-expression network analyses.

Results: MP genes were differentially expressed (DE; over-expressed or under-expressed) across tissues in cattle. All 29 tissues showed DE NuMP genes in varying proportions of over-expression and under-expression. On the other hand, DE of MtMP genes was observed in < 50% of tissues and notably MtMP genes within a tissue was either all over-expressed or all under-expressed. A high proportion of NuMP (up to 60%) and MtMP (up to 100%) genes were over-expressed in tissues with expected high metabolic demand; heart, skeletal muscles and tongue, and under-expressed (up to 45% of NuMP, 77% of MtMP genes) in tissues with expected low metabolic rates; leukocytes, thymus, and lymph nodes. These tissues also invariably had the expression of all MtMP genes in the direction of dominant NuMP genes expression. The NuMP and MtMP genes were highly co-expressed across tissues and co-expression of genes in a cluster were non-random and functionally enriched for energy generation pathway. The differential gene expression and co-expression patterns were validated in independent cow and sheep datasets.

Conclusions: The results of this study support the concept that there are biological interaction of MP genes from the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes given their over-expression in tissues with high energy demand and co-expression in tissues. This highlights the importance of considering MP genes from both genomes in future studies related to mitochondrial functions and traits related to energy metabolism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-020-07018-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7574280PMC
October 2020

Quantifying the contribution of sequence variants with regulatory and evolutionary significance to 34 bovine complex traits.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019 09 9;116(39):19398-19408. Epub 2019 Sep 9.

Faculty of Veterinary & Agricultural Science, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia.

Many genome variants shaping mammalian phenotype are hypothesized to regulate gene transcription and/or to be under selection. However, most of the evidence to support this hypothesis comes from human studies. Systematic evidence for regulatory and evolutionary signals contributing to complex traits in a different mammalian model is needed. Sequence variants associated with gene expression (expression quantitative trait loci [eQTLs]) and concentration of metabolites (metabolic quantitative trait loci [mQTLs]) and under histone-modification marks in several tissues were discovered from multiomics data of over 400 cattle. Variants under selection and evolutionary constraint were identified using genome databases of multiple species. These analyses defined 30 sets of variants, and for each set, we estimated the genetic variance the set explained across 34 complex traits in 11,923 bulls and 32,347 cows with 17,669,372 imputed variants. The per-variant trait heritability of these sets across traits was highly consistent ( > 0.94) between bulls and cows. Based on the per-variant heritability, conserved sites across 100 vertebrate species and mQTLs ranked the highest, followed by eQTLs, young variants, those under histone-modification marks, and selection signatures. From these results, we defined a Functional-And-Evolutionary Trait Heritability (FAETH) score indicating the functionality and predicted heritability of each variant. In additional 7,551 cattle, the high FAETH-ranking variants had significantly increased genetic variances and genomic prediction accuracies in 3 production traits compared to the low FAETH-ranking variants. The FAETH framework combines the information of gene regulation, evolution, and trait heritability to rank variants, and the publicly available FAETH data provide a set of biological priors for cattle genomic selection worldwide.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1904159116DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6765237PMC
September 2019

Survey of allele specific expression in bovine muscle.

Sci Rep 2019 03 12;9(1):4297. Epub 2019 Mar 12.

GABI, INRA, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 78350, Jouy-en-Josas, France.

Allelic imbalance is a common phenomenon in mammals that plays an important role in gene regulation. An Allele Specific Expression (ASE) approach can be used to detect variants with a cis-regulatory effect on gene expression. In cattle, this type of study has only been done once in Holstein. In our study we performed a genome-wide analysis of ASE in 19 Limousine muscle samples. We identified 5,658 ASE SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms showing allele specific expression) in 13% of genes with detectable expression in the Longissimus thoraci muscle. Interestingly we found allelic imbalance in AOX1, PALLD and CAST genes. We also found 2,107 ASE SNPs located within genomic regions associated with meat or carcass traits. In order to identify causative cis-regulatory variants explaining ASE we searched for SNPs altering binding sites of transcription factors or microRNAs. We identified one SNP in the 3'UTR region of PRNP that could be a causal regulatory variant modifying binding sites of several miRNAs. We showed that ASE is frequent within our muscle samples. Our data could be used to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying gene expression imbalance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-40781-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6414783PMC
March 2019

Comparing allele specific expression and local expression quantitative trait loci and the influence of gene expression on complex trait variation in cattle.

BMC Genomics 2018 Nov 3;19(1):793. Epub 2018 Nov 3.

Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia.

Background: The mutations changing the expression level of a gene, or expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL), can be identified by testing the association between genetic variants and gene expression in multiple individuals (eQTL mapping), or by comparing the expression of the alleles in a heterozygous individual (allele specific expression or ASE analysis). The aims of the study were to find and compare ASE and local eQTL in 4 bovine RNA-sequencing (RNA-Seq) datasets, validate them in an independent ASE study and investigate if they are associated with complex trait variation.

Results: We present a novel method for distinguishing between ASE driven by polymorphisms in cis and parent of origin effects. We found that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) driving ASE are also often local eQTL and therefore presumably cis eQTL. These SNPs often, but not always, affect gene expression in multiple tissues and, when they do, the allele increasing expression is usually the same. However, there were systematic differences between ASE and local eQTL and between tissues and breeds. We also found that SNPs significantly associated with gene expression (p < 0.001) were likely to influence some complex traits (p < 0.001), which means that some mutations influence variation in complex traits by changing the expression level of genes.

Conclusion: We conclude that ASE detects phenomenon that overlap with local eQTL, but there are also systematic differences between the SNPs discovered by the two methods. Some mutations influencing complex traits are actually eQTL and can be discovered using RNA-Seq including eQTL in the genes CAST, CAPN1, LCORL and LEPROTL1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-018-5181-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6215656PMC
November 2018

Scans for signatures of selection in Russian cattle breed genomes reveal new candidate genes for environmental adaptation and acclimation.

Sci Rep 2018 08 28;8(1):12984. Epub 2018 Aug 28.

The Federal Research Center Institute of Cytology and Genetics, The Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (ICG SB RAS), 630090, Novosibirsk, Russia.

Domestication and selective breeding has resulted in over 1000 extant cattle breeds. Many of these breeds do not excel in important traits but are adapted to local environments. These adaptations are a valuable source of genetic material for efforts to improve commercial breeds. As a step toward this goal we identified candidate regions to be under selection in genomes of nine Russian native cattle breeds adapted to survive in harsh climates. After comparing our data to other breeds of European and Asian origins we found known and novel candidate genes that could potentially be related to domestication, economically important traits and environmental adaptations in cattle. The Russian cattle breed genomes contained regions under putative selection with genes that may be related to adaptations to harsh environments (e.g., AQP5, RAD50, and RETREG1). We found genomic signatures of selective sweeps near key genes related to economically important traits, such as the milk production (e.g., DGAT1, ABCG2), growth (e.g., XKR4), and reproduction (e.g., CSF2). Our data point to candidate genes which should be included in future studies attempting to identify genes to improve the extant breeds and facilitate generation of commercial breeds that fit better into the environments of Russia and other countries with similar climates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-31304-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6113280PMC
August 2018

Genome variants associated with RNA splicing variations in bovine are extensively shared between tissues.

BMC Genomics 2018 Jul 4;19(1):521. Epub 2018 Jul 4.

Faculty of Veterinary & Agricultural Science, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, 3010, Australia.

Background: Mammalian phenotypes are shaped by numerous genome variants, many of which may regulate gene transcription or RNA splicing. To identify variants with regulatory functions in cattle, an important economic and model species, we used sequence variants to map a type of expression quantitative trait loci (expression QTLs) that are associated with variations in the RNA splicing, i.e., sQTLs. To further the understanding of regulatory variants, sQTLs were compare with other two types of expression QTLs, 1) variants associated with variations in gene expression, i.e., geQTLs and 2) variants associated with variations in exon expression, i.e., eeQTLs, in different tissues.

Results: Using whole genome and RNA sequence data from four tissues of over 200 cattle, sQTLs identified using exon inclusion ratios were verified by matching their effects on adjacent intron excision ratios. sQTLs contained the highest percentage of variants that are within the intronic region of genes and contained the lowest percentage of variants that are within intergenic regions, compared to eeQTLs and geQTLs. Many geQTLs and sQTLs are also detected as eeQTLs. Many expression QTLs, including sQTLs, were significant in all four tissues and had a similar effect in each tissue. To verify such expression QTL sharing between tissues, variants surrounding (±1 Mb) the exon or gene were used to build local genomic relationship matrices (LGRM) and estimated genetic correlations between tissues. For many exons, the splicing and expression level was determined by the same cis additive genetic variance in different tissues. Thus, an effective but simple-to-implement meta-analysis combining information from three tissues is introduced to increase power to detect and validate sQTLs. sQTLs and eeQTLs together were more enriched for variants associated with cattle complex traits, compared to geQTLs. Several putative causal mutations were identified, including an sQTL at Chr6:87392580 within the 5th exon of kappa casein (CSN3) associated with milk production traits.

Conclusions: Using novel analytical approaches, we report the first identification of numerous bovine sQTLs which are extensively shared between multiple tissue types. The significant overlaps between bovine sQTLs and complex traits QTL highlight the contribution of regulatory mutations to phenotypic variations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-018-4902-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6032541PMC
July 2018

Putative bovine topological association domains and CTCF binding motifs can reduce the search space for causative regulatory variants of complex traits.

BMC Genomics 2018 May 24;19(1):395. Epub 2018 May 24.

AgriBio, Centre for AgriBioscience, Agriculture Victoria, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Background: Topological association domains (TADs) are chromosomal domains characterised by frequent internal DNA-DNA interactions. The transcription factor CTCF binds to conserved DNA sequence patterns called CTCF binding motifs to either prohibit or facilitate chromosomal interactions. TADs and CTCF binding motifs control gene expression, but they are not yet well defined in the bovine genome. In this paper, we sought to improve the annotation of bovine TADs and CTCF binding motifs, and assess whether the new annotation can reduce the search space for cis-regulatory variants.

Results: We used genomic synteny to map TADs and CTCF binding motifs from humans, mice, dogs and macaques to the bovine genome. We found that our mapped TADs exhibited the same hallmark properties of those sourced from experimental data, such as housekeeping genes, transfer RNA genes, CTCF binding motifs, short interspersed elements, H3K4me3 and H3K27ac. We showed that runs of genes with the same pattern of allele-specific expression (ASE) (either favouring paternal or maternal allele) were often located in the same TAD or between the same conserved CTCF binding motifs. Analyses of variance showed that when averaged across all bovine tissues tested, TADs explained 14% of ASE variation (standard deviation, SD: 0.056), while CTCF explained 27% (SD: 0.078). Furthermore, we showed that the quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated with gene expression variation (eQTLs) or ASE variation (aseQTLs), which were identified from mRNA transcripts from 141 lactating cows' white blood and milk cells, were highly enriched at putative bovine CTCF binding motifs. The linearly-furthermost, and most-significant aseQTL and eQTL for each genic target were located within the same TAD as the gene more often than expected (Chi-Squared test P-value < 0.001).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that genomic synteny can be used to functionally annotate conserved transcriptional components, and provides a tool to reduce the search space for causative regulatory variants in the bovine genome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-018-4800-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968476PMC
May 2018

Targeted imputation of sequence variants and gene expression profiling identifies twelve candidate genes associated with lactation volume, composition and calving interval in dairy cattle.

Mamm Genome 2016 Feb 27;27(1-2):81-97. Epub 2015 Nov 27.

Biosciences Research Division, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, 5 Ring Road, Bundoora, 3086, Australia.

Dairy cattle are an interesting model for gaining insights into the genes responsible for the large variation between and within mammalian species in the protein and fat content of their milk and their milk volume. Large numbers of phenotypes for these traits are available, as well as full genome sequence of key founders of modern dairy cattle populations. In twenty target QTL regions affecting milk production traits, we imputed full genome sequence variant genotypes into a population of 16,721 Holstein and Jersey cattle with excellent phenotypes. Association testing was used to identify variants within each target region, and gene expression data were used to identify possible gene candidates. There was statistical support for imputed sequence variants in or close to BTRC, MGST1, SLC37A1, STAT5A, STAT5B, PAEP, VDR, CSF2RB, MUC1, NCF4, and GHDC associated with milk production, and EPGN for calving interval. Of these candidates, analysis of RNA-Seq data demonstrated that PAEP, VDR, SLC37A1, GHDC, MUC1, CSF2RB, and STAT5A were highly differentially expressed in mammary gland compared to 15 other tissues. For nine of the other target regions, the most significant variants were in non-coding DNA. Genomic predictions in a third dairy breed (Australian Reds) using sequence variants in only these candidate genes were for some traits more accurate than genomic predictions from 632,003 common SNP on the Bovine HD array. The genes identified in this study are interesting candidates for improving milk production in cattle and could be investigated for novel biological mechanisms driving lactation traits in other mammals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00335-015-9613-8DOI Listing
February 2016

Extensive variation between tissues in allele specific expression in an outbred mammal.

BMC Genomics 2015 Nov 23;16:993. Epub 2015 Nov 23.

Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Agribiosciences Building, 5 Ring Rd, Bundoora, Australia.

Background: Allele specific gene expression (ASE), with the paternal allele more expressed than the maternal allele or vice versa, appears to be a common phenomenon in humans and mice. In other species the extent of ASE is unknown, and even in humans and mice there are several outstanding questions. These include; to what extent is ASE tissue specific? how often does the direction of allele expression imbalance reverse between tissues? how often is only one of the two alleles expressed? is there a genome wide bias towards expression of the paternal or maternal allele; and finally do genes that are nearby on a chromosome share the same direction of ASE? Here we use gene expression data (RNASeq) from 18 tissues from a single cow to investigate each of these questions in turn, and then validate some of these findings in two tissues from 20 cows.

Results: Between 40 and 100 million sequence reads were generated per tissue across three replicate samples for each of the eighteen tissues from the single cow (the discovery dataset). A bovine gene expression atlas was created (the first from RNASeq data), and differentially expressed genes in each tissue were identified. To analyse ASE, we had access to unambiguously phased genotypes for all heterozygous variants in the cow's whole genome sequence, where these variants were homozygous in the whole genome sequence of her sire, and as a result we were able to map reads to parental genomes, to determine SNP and genes showing ASE in each tissue. In total 25,251 heterozygous SNP within 7985 genes were tested for ASE in at least one tissue. ASE was pervasive, 89 % of genes tested had significant ASE in at least one tissue. This large proportion of genes displaying ASE was confirmed in the two tissues in a validation dataset. For individual tissues the proportion of genes showing significant ASE varied from as low as 8-16 % of those tested in thymus to as high as 71-82 % of those tested in lung. There were a number of cases where the direction of allele expression imbalance reversed between tissues. For example the gene SPTY2D1 showed almost complete paternal allele expression in kidney and thymus, and almost complete maternal allele expression in the brain caudal lobe and brain cerebellum. Mono allelic expression (MAE) was common, with 1349 of 4856 genes (28 %) tested with more than one heterozygous SNP showing MAE. Across all tissues, 54.17 % of all genes with ASE favoured the paternal allele. Genes that are closely linked on the chromosome were more likely to show higher expression of the same allele (paternal or maternal) than expected by chance. We identified several long runs of neighbouring genes that showed either paternal or maternal ASE, one example was five adjacent genes (GIMAP8, GIMAP7 copy1, GIMAP4, GIMAP7 copy 2 and GIMAP5) that showed almost exclusive paternal expression in brain caudal lobe.

Conclusions: Investigating the extent of ASE across 18 bovine tissues in one cow and two tissues in 20 cows demonstrated 1) ASE is pervasive in cattle, 2) the ASE is often MAE but ranges from MAE to slight overexpression of the major allele, 3) the ASE is most often tissue specific and that more than half the time displays divergent allele specific expression patterns across tissues, 4) across all genes there is a slight bias towards expression of the paternal allele and 5) genes expressing the same parental allele are clustered together more than expected by chance, and there are several runs of large numbers of genes expressing the same parental allele.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-015-2174-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657355PMC
November 2015

Improved precision of QTL mapping using a nonlinear Bayesian method in a multi-breed population leads to greater accuracy of across-breed genomic predictions.

Genet Sel Evol 2015 Apr 17;47:29. Epub 2015 Apr 17.

Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, 3052, Australia.

Background: Genomic selection is increasingly widely practised, particularly in dairy cattle. However, the accuracy of current predictions using GBLUP (genomic best linear unbiased prediction) decays rapidly across generations, and also as selection candidates become less related to the reference population. This is likely caused by the effects of causative mutations being dispersed across many SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) that span large genomic intervals. In this paper, we hypothesise that the use of a nonlinear method (BayesR), combined with a multi-breed (Holstein/Jersey) reference population will map causative mutations with more precision than GBLUP and this, in turn, will increase the accuracy of genomic predictions for selection candidates that are less related to the reference animals.

Results: BayesR improved the across-breed prediction accuracy for Australian Red dairy cattle for five milk yield and composition traits by an average of 7% over the GBLUP approach (Australian Red animals were not included in the reference population). Using the multi-breed reference population with BayesR improved accuracy of prediction in Australian Red cattle by 2 - 5% compared to using BayesR with a single breed reference population. Inclusion of 8478 Holstein and 3917 Jersey cows in the reference population improved accuracy of predictions for these breeds by 4 and 5%. However, predictions for Holstein and Jersey cattle were similar using within-breed and multi-breed reference populations. We propose that the improvement in across-breed prediction achieved by BayesR with the multi-breed reference population is due to more precise mapping of quantitative trait loci (QTL), which was demonstrated for several regions. New candidate genes with functional links to milk synthesis were identified using differential gene expression in the mammary gland.

Conclusions: QTL detection and genomic prediction are usually considered independently but persistence of genomic prediction accuracies across breeds requires accurate estimation of QTL effects. We show that accuracy of across-breed genomic predictions was higher with BayesR than with GBLUP and that BayesR mapped QTL more precisely. Further improvements of across-breed accuracy of genomic predictions and QTL mapping could be achieved by increasing the size of the reference population, including more breeds, and possibly by exploiting pleiotropic effects to improve mapping efficiency for QTL with small effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12711-014-0074-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4399226PMC
April 2015