Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Small variations in genetic code can team up to have big impact

Date:
May 2, 2014
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Large sets of variations in the genetic code that do not individually appear to have much effect can collectively produce significant changes in an organism's physical characteristics, scientists have definitively demonstrated. Studying the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, researchers found that the effects of these genetic variants can depend on four or more other variants in an individual's genome.

Scientists at USC have definitively demonstrated that large sets of variations in the genetic code that do not individually appear to have much effect can collectively produce significant changes in an organism's physical characteristics.

Studying the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, USC's Matthew B. Taylor and Ian M. Ehrenreich found that the effects of these genetic variants can depend on four or more other variants in an individual's genome.

Most genetic analyses of heritable physical characteristics, including genome-wide association studies in human populations, focus on so-called "additive" variants that have effects that occur regardless of the organism's genetic background. Taylor and Ehrenreich, however, found that higher-order interactions of five or more places along the genome can have major impacts, and may help explain the so-called "missing heritability" problem, in which additive genetic variants do not entirely explain many inherited diseases and traits.

"Studies focused only on additive effects often explain just a fraction of the genetic basis of many traits. The question is, what are we missing?" said Ehrenreich, assistant professor of molecular biology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and corresponding author of a paper on the study that was published by PLOS Genetics on May 1.

An alternative view of Taylor and Ehrenreich's findings is that genetic variants that have the potential to cause major changes in an organism's phenotype can be completely canceled out if they occur in the "wrong" genomic background.

"It's exciting to provide a characterized example of how genetic background can influence the effects of mutations. We hope that this will open the door for future studies to tease apart how these complex interactions happen," said Taylor, a PhD student in the Molecular and Computational Biology Section at USC.

Their work could impact genetic mapping studies, suggesting that researchers will need to take an approach to understanding the genotype-phenotype relationship that encompasses complex non-additive effects.

Taylor and Ehrenreich plan to take a closer look at the molecular mechanisms that underlie these interactions, in the hopes of providing basic insights into how they occur in biological systems.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Matthew B. Taylor, Ian M. Ehrenreich. Genetic Interactions Involving Five or More Genes Contribute to a Complex Trait in Yeast. PLoS Genetics, 2014; 10 (5): e1004324 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004324

Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Small variations in genetic code can team up to have big impact." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140502102508.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2014, May 2). Small variations in genetic code can team up to have big impact. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140502102508.htm
University of Southern California. "Small variations in genetic code can team up to have big impact." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140502102508.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins