Voluntary exposure to a toxin: the genetic influence on ethanol consumption

Voluntary exposure to a toxin: the genetic influence on ethanol consumption Ethyl alcohol is a toxin that, when consumed at high levels, produces organ damage and death. One way to prevent or ameliorate this damage in humans is to reduce the exposure of organs to alcohol by reducing alcohol ingestion. Both the propensity to consume large volumes of alcohol and the susceptibility of human organs to alcohol-induced damage exhibit a strong genetic influence. We have developed an integrative genetic/genomic approach to identify transcriptional networks that predispose complex traits, including propensity for alcohol consumption and propensity for alcohol-induced organ damage. In our approach, the phenotype is assessed in a panel of recombinant inbred (RI) rat strains, and quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis is performed. Transcriptome data from tissues/organs of naïve RI rat strains are used to identify transcriptional networks using Weighted Gene Coexpression Network Analysis (WGCNA). Correlation of the first principal component of transcriptional coexpression modules with the phenotype across the rat strains, and overlap of QTLs for the phenotype and the QTLs for the coexpression modules (module eigengene QTL) provide the criteria for identification of the functionally related groups of genes that contribute to the phenotype (candidate modules). While we previously identified a brain transcriptional module whose QTL overlapped with a QTL for levels of alcohol consumption in HXB/BXH RI rat strains and 12 selected rat lines, this module did not account for all of the genetic variation in alcohol consumption. Our search for QTL overlap and correlation of coexpression modules with phenotype can, however, be applied to any organ in which the transcriptome has been measured, and this represents a holistic approach in the search for genetic contributors to complex traits. Previous work has implicated liver/brain interactions, particularly involving inflammatory/immune processes, as influencing alcohol consumption levels. We have now analyzed the liver transcriptome of the HXB/BXH RI rat panel in relation to the behavioral trait of alcohol consumption. We used RNA-Seq and microarray data to construct liver transcriptional networks, and identified a liver candidate transcriptional coexpression module that explained 24% of the genetic variance in voluntary alcohol consumption. The transcripts in this module focus attention on liver secretory products that influence inflammatory and immune signaling pathways. We propose that these liver secretory products can interact with brain mechanisms that affect alcohol consumption, and targeting these pathways provides a potential approach to reducing high levels of alcohol intake and also protecting the integrity of the liver and other organs. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Mammalian Genome Springer Journals

Voluntary exposure to a toxin: the genetic influence on ethanol consumption

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature
Subject
Life Sciences; Cell Biology; Animal Genetics and Genomics; Human Genetics
ISSN
0938-8990
eISSN
1432-1777
D.O.I.
10.1007/s00335-017-9726-3
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Ethyl alcohol is a toxin that, when consumed at high levels, produces organ damage and death. One way to prevent or ameliorate this damage in humans is to reduce the exposure of organs to alcohol by reducing alcohol ingestion. Both the propensity to consume large volumes of alcohol and the susceptibility of human organs to alcohol-induced damage exhibit a strong genetic influence. We have developed an integrative genetic/genomic approach to identify transcriptional networks that predispose complex traits, including propensity for alcohol consumption and propensity for alcohol-induced organ damage. In our approach, the phenotype is assessed in a panel of recombinant inbred (RI) rat strains, and quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis is performed. Transcriptome data from tissues/organs of naïve RI rat strains are used to identify transcriptional networks using Weighted Gene Coexpression Network Analysis (WGCNA). Correlation of the first principal component of transcriptional coexpression modules with the phenotype across the rat strains, and overlap of QTLs for the phenotype and the QTLs for the coexpression modules (module eigengene QTL) provide the criteria for identification of the functionally related groups of genes that contribute to the phenotype (candidate modules). While we previously identified a brain transcriptional module whose QTL overlapped with a QTL for levels of alcohol consumption in HXB/BXH RI rat strains and 12 selected rat lines, this module did not account for all of the genetic variation in alcohol consumption. Our search for QTL overlap and correlation of coexpression modules with phenotype can, however, be applied to any organ in which the transcriptome has been measured, and this represents a holistic approach in the search for genetic contributors to complex traits. Previous work has implicated liver/brain interactions, particularly involving inflammatory/immune processes, as influencing alcohol consumption levels. We have now analyzed the liver transcriptome of the HXB/BXH RI rat panel in relation to the behavioral trait of alcohol consumption. We used RNA-Seq and microarray data to construct liver transcriptional networks, and identified a liver candidate transcriptional coexpression module that explained 24% of the genetic variance in voluntary alcohol consumption. The transcripts in this module focus attention on liver secretory products that influence inflammatory and immune signaling pathways. We propose that these liver secretory products can interact with brain mechanisms that affect alcohol consumption, and targeting these pathways provides a potential approach to reducing high levels of alcohol intake and also protecting the integrity of the liver and other organs.

Journal

Mammalian GenomeSpringer Journals

Published: Dec 1, 2017

References

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