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Journal Articles The American Naturalist Year : 2015

The Phenome-Wide Distribution of Genetic Variance

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A general observation emerging from estimates of additive genetic variance in sets of functionally or developmentally related traits is that much of the genetic variance is restricted to few trait combinations as a consequence of genetic covariance among traits. While this biased distribution of genetic variance among functionally related traits is now well documented, how it translates to the broader phenome and therefore any trait combination under selection in a given environment is unknown. We show that 8,750 gene expression traits measured in adult male Drosophila serrata exhibit widespread genetic covariance among random sets of five traits, implying that pleiotropy is common. Ultimately, to understand the phenome-wide distribution of genetic variance, very large additive genetic variance-covariance matrices (G) are required to be estimated. We draw upon recent advances in matrix theory for completing high-dimensional matrices to estimate the 8,750-trait G and show that large numbers of gene expression traits genetically covary as a consequence of a single genetic factor. Using gene ontology term enrichment analysis, we show that the major axis of genetic variance among expression traits successfully identified genetic covariance among genes involved in multiple modes of transcriptional regulation. Our approach provides a practical empirical framework for the genetic analysis of high-dimensional phenome-wide trait sets and for the investigation of the extent of high-dimensional genetic constraint.
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hal-03855132 , version 1 (16-11-2022)



Mark W Blows, Scott L Allen, Julie M Collet, Stephen F Chenoweth, Katrina Mcguigan. The Phenome-Wide Distribution of Genetic Variance. The American Naturalist, 2015, 186 (1), pp.15-30. ⟨10.1086/681645⟩. ⟨hal-03855132⟩


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