• ATR-FTIR spectroscopy reveals genomic loci regulating the tissue response in high fat diet fed BXD recombinant inbred mouse strains

      Dogan, Ayca; Lasch, Peter; Neuschl, Christina; Millrose, Marion K; Alberts, Rudi; Schughart, Klaus; Naumann, Dieter; Brockmann, Gudrun A (2013-06-10)
      Abstract Background Obesity-associated organ-specific pathological states can be ensued from the dysregulation of the functions of the adipose tissues, liver and muscle. However, the influence of genetic differences underlying gross-compositional differences in these tissues is largely unknown. In the present study, the analytical method of ATR-FTIR spectroscopy has been combined with a genetic approach to identify genetic differences responsible for phenotypic alterations in adipose, liver and muscle tissues. Results Mice from 29 BXD recombinant inbred mouse strains were put on high fat diet and gross-compositional changes in adipose, liver and muscle tissues were measured by ATR-FTIR spectroscopy. The analysis of genotype-phenotype correlations revealed significant quantitative trait loci (QTL) on chromosome 12 for the content of fat and collagen, collagen integrity, and the lipid to protein ratio in adipose tissue and on chromosome 17 for lipid to protein ratio in liver. Using gene expression and sequence information, we suggest Rsad2 (viperin) and Colec11 (collectin-11) on chromosome 12 as potential quantitative trait candidate genes. Rsad2 may act as a modulator of lipid droplet contents and lipid biosynthesis; Colec11 might play a role in apoptopic cell clearance and maintenance of adipose tissue. An increased level of Rsad2 transcripts in adipose tissue of DBA/2J compared to C57BL/6J mice suggests a cis-acting genetic variant leading to differential gene activation. Conclusion The results demonstrate that the analytical method of ATR-FTIR spectroscopy effectively contributed to decompose the macromolecular composition of tissues that accumulate fat and to link this information with genetic determinants. The candidate genes in the QTL regions may contribute to obesity-related diseases in humans, in particular if the results can be verified in a bigger BXD cohort.
    • A comparative phenotypic and genomic analysis of C57BL/6J and C57BL/6N mouse strains

      Simon, Michelle M; Greenaway, Simon; White, Jacqueline K; Fuchs, Helmut; Gailus-Durner, Valérie; Wells, Sara; Sorg, Tania; Wong, Kim; Bedu, Elodie; Cartwright, Elizabeth J; et al. (2013-07-31)
      Abstract Background The mouse inbred line C57BL/6J is widely used in mouse genetics and its genome has been incorporated into many genetic reference populations. More recently large initiatives such as the International Knockout Mouse Consortium (IKMC) are using the C57BL/6N mouse strain to generate null alleles for all mouse genes. Hence both strains are now widely used in mouse genetics studies. Here we perform a comprehensive genomic and phenotypic analysis of the two strains to identify differences that may influence their underlying genetic mechanisms. Results We undertake genome sequence comparisons of C57BL/6J and C57BL/6N to identify SNPs, indels and structural variants, with a focus on identifying all coding variants. We annotate 34 SNPs and 2 indels that distinguish C57BL/6J and C57BL/6N coding sequences, as well as 15 structural variants that overlap a gene. In parallel we assess the comparative phenotypes of the two inbred lines utilizing the EMPReSSslim phenotyping pipeline, a broad based assessment encompassing diverse biological systems. We perform additional secondary phenotyping assessments to explore other phenotype domains and to elaborate phenotype differences identified in the primary assessment. We uncover significant phenotypic differences between the two lines, replicated across multiple centers, in a number of physiological, biochemical and behavioral systems. Conclusions Comparison of C57BL/6J and C57BL/6N demonstrates a range of phenotypic differences that have the potential to impact upon penetrance and expressivity of mutational effects in these strains. Moreover, the sequence variants we identify provide a set of candidate genes for the phenotypic differences observed between the two strains.
    • Data-driven assessment of eQTL mapping methods

      Michaelson, Jacob J; Alberts, Rudi; Schughart, Klaus; Beyer, Andreas (2010-09-17)
      Abstract Background The analysis of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) is a potentially powerful way to detect transcriptional regulatory relationships at the genomic scale. However, eQTL data sets often go underexploited because legacy QTL methods are used to map the relationship between the expression trait and genotype. Often these methods are inappropriate for complex traits such as gene expression, particularly in the case of epistasis. Results Here we compare legacy QTL mapping methods with several modern multi-locus methods and evaluate their ability to produce eQTL that agree with independent external data in a systematic way. We found that the modern multi-locus methods (Random Forests, sparse partial least squares, lasso, and elastic net) clearly outperformed the legacy QTL methods (Haley-Knott regression and composite interval mapping) in terms of biological relevance of the mapped eQTL. In particular, we found that our new approach, based on Random Forests, showed superior performance among the multi-locus methods. Conclusions Benchmarks based on the recapitulation of experimental findings provide valuable insight when selecting the appropriate eQTL mapping method. Our battery of tests suggests that Random Forests map eQTL that are more likely to be validated by independent data, when compared to competing multi-locus and legacy eQTL mapping methods.
    • Dynamic gene network reconstruction from gene expression data in mice after influenza A (H1N1) infection

      Dimitrakopoulou, Konstantina; Tsimpouris, Charalampos; Papadopoulos, George; Pommerenke, Claudia; Wilk, Esther; Sgarbas, Kyriakos N; Schughart, Klaus; Bezerianos, Anastasios (2011-10-21)
      Abstract Background The immune response to viral infection is a temporal process, represented by a dynamic and complex network of gene and protein interactions. Here, we present a reverse engineering strategy aimed at capturing the temporal evolution of the underlying Gene Regulatory Networks (GRN). The proposed approach will be an enabling step towards comprehending the dynamic behavior of gene regulation circuitry and mapping the network structure transitions in response to pathogen stimuli. Results We applied the Time Varying Dynamic Bayesian Network (TV-DBN) method for reconstructing the gene regulatory interactions based on time series gene expression data for the mouse C57BL/6J inbred strain after infection with influenza A H1N1 (PR8) virus. Initially, 3500 differentially expressed genes were clustered with the use of k-means algorithm. Next, the successive in time GRNs were built over the expression profiles of cluster centroids. Finally, the identified GRNs were examined with several topological metrics and available protein-protein and protein-DNA interaction data, transcription factor and KEGG pathway data. Conclusions Our results elucidate the potential of TV-DBN approach in providing valuable insights into the temporal rewiring of the lung transcriptome in response to H1N1 virus.
    • Expression QTL mapping in regulatory and helper T cells from the BXD family of strains reveals novel cell-specific genes, gene-gene interactions and candidate genes for auto-immune disease

      Alberts, Rudi; Chen, Hairong; Pommerenke, Claudia; Smit, August B; Spijker, Sabine; Williams, Robert W; Geffers, Robert; Bruder, Dunja; Schughart, Klaus (2011-12-19)
      Abstract Background Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play an essential role in the control of the immune response. Treg cells represent important targets for therapeutic interventions of the immune system. Therefore, it will be very important to understand in more detail which genes are specifically activated in Treg cells versus T helper (Th) cells, and which gene regulatory circuits may be involved in specifying and maintaining Treg cell homeostasis. Results We isolated Treg and Th cells from a genetically diverse family of 31 BXD type recombinant inbred strains and the fully inbred parental strains of this family--C57BL/6J and DBA/2J. Subsequently genome-wide gene expression studies were performed from the isolated Treg and Th cells. A comparative analysis of the transcriptomes of these cell populations allowed us to identify many novel differentially expressed genes. Analysis of cis- and trans-expression Quantitative Trait Loci (eQTLs) highlighted common and unique regulatory mechanisms that are active in the two cell types. Trans-eQTL regions were found for the Treg functional genes Nrp1, Stat3 and Ikzf4. Analyses of the respective QTL intervals suggested several candidate genes that may be involved in regulating these genes in Treg cells. Similarly, possible candidate genes were found which may regulate the expression of F2rl1, Ctla4, Klrb1f. In addition, we identified a focused group of candidate genes that may be important for the maintenance of self-tolerance and the prevention of allergy. Conclusions Variation of expression across the strains allowed us to find many novel gene-interaction networks in both T cell subsets. In addition, these two data sets enabled us to identify many differentially expressed genes and to nominate candidate genes that may have important functions for the maintenance of self-tolerance and the prevention of allergy.
    • Genome-wide analysis of the mouse lung transcriptome reveals novel molecular gene interaction networks and cell-specific expression signatures

      Alberts, Rudi; Lu, Lu; Williams, Robert W; Schughart, Klaus (2011-05-02)
      Abstract Background The lung is critical in surveillance and initial defense against pathogens. In humans, as in mice, individual genetic differences strongly modulate pulmonary responses to infectious agents, severity of lung disease, and potential allergic reactions. In a first step towards understanding genetic predisposition and pulmonary molecular networks that underlie individual differences in disease vulnerability, we performed a global analysis of normative lung gene expression levels in inbred mouse strains and a large family of BXD strains that are widely used for systems genetics. Our goal is to provide a key community resource on the genetics of the normative lung transcriptome that can serve as a foundation for experimental analysis and allow predicting genetic predisposition and response to pathogens, allergens, and xenobiotics. Methods Steady-state polyA+ mRNA levels were assayed across a diverse and fully genotyped panel of 57 isogenic strains using the Affymetrix M430 2.0 array. Correlations of expression levels between genes were determined. Global expression QTL (eQTL) analysis and network covariance analysis was performed using tools and resources in GeneNetwork http://www.genenetwork.org. Results Expression values were highly variable across strains and in many cases exhibited a high heri-tability factor. Several genes which showed a restricted expression to lung tissue were identified. Using correlations between gene expression values across all strains, we defined and extended memberships of several important molecular networks in the lung. Furthermore, we were able to extract signatures of immune cell subpopulations and characterize co-variation and shared genetic modulation. Known QTL regions for respiratory infection susceptibility were investigated and several cis-eQTL genes were identified. Numerous cis- and trans-regulated transcripts and chromosomal intervals with strong regulatory activity were mapped. The Cyp1a1 P450 transcript had a strong trans-acting eQTL (LOD 11.8) on Chr 12 at 36 ± 1 Mb. This interval contains the transcription factor Ahr that has a critical mis-sense allele in the DBA/2J haplotype and evidently modulates transcriptional activation by AhR. Conclusions Large-scale gene expression analyses in genetic reference populations revealed lung-specific and immune-cell gene expression profiles and suggested specific gene regulatory interactions.
    • Genomic structure and expression of Jmjd6 and evolutionary analysis in the context of related JmjC domain containing proteins

      Hahn, Phillip; Böse, Jens; Edler, Stefanie; Lengeling, Andreas (2008-06-18)
      Abstract Background The jumonji C (JmjC) domain containing gene 6 (Jmjd6, previously known as phosphatidylserine receptor) has misleadingly been annotated to encode a transmembrane receptor for the engulfment of apoptotic cells. Given the importance of JmjC domain containing proteins in controlling a wide range of diverse biological functions, we undertook a comparative genomic analysis to gain further insights in Jmjd6 gene organisation, evolution, and protein function. Results We describe here a semiautomated computational pipeline to identify and annotate JmjC domain containing proteins. Using a sequence segment N-terminal of the Jmjd6 JmjC domain as query for a reciprocal BLAST search, we identified homologous sequences in 62 species across all major phyla. Retrieved Jmjd6 sequences were used to phylogenetically analyse corresponding loci and their genomic neighbourhood. This analysis let to the identification and characterisation of a bi-directional transcriptional unit compromising the Jmjd6 and 1110005A03Rik genes and to the recognition of a new, before overseen Jmjd6 exon in mammals. Using expression studies, two novel Jmjd6 splice variants were identified and validated in vivo. Analysis of the Jmjd6 neighbouring gene 1110005A03Rik revealed an incident deletion of this gene in two out of three earlier reported Jmjd6 knockout mice, which might affect previously described conflicting phenotypes. To determine potentially important residues for Jmjd6 function a structural model of the Jmjd6 protein was calculated based on sequence conservation. This approach identified a conserved double-stranded β-helix (DSBH) fold and a HxDxnH facial triad as structural motifs. Moreover, our systematic annotation in nine species identified 313 DSBH fold-containing proteins that split into 25 highly conserved subgroups. Conclusion We give further evidence that Jmjd6 most likely has a function as a nonheme-Fe(II)-2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase as previously suggested. Further, we provide novel insights into the evolution of Jmjd6 and other related members of the superfamily of JmjC domain containing proteins. Finally, we discuss possibilities of the involvement of Jmjd6 and 1110005A03Rik in an antagonistic biochemical pathway.
    • Infection- and procedure-dependent effects on pulmonary gene expression in the early phase of influenza A virus infection in mice

      Preusse, Matthias; Tantawy, Mohamed A; Klawonn, Frank; Schughart, Klaus; Pessler, Frank (2013-12-17)
      Abstract Background Investigating the host response in the early stage of influenza A virus (IAV) infection is of considerable interest. However, it is conceivable that effects due to the anesthesia and/or intranasal infection procedure might introduce artifacts. We therefore aimed to evaluate the effects of anesthesia and/or intranasal infection on transcription of selected pulmonary mRNAs in two inbred mouse strains with differential susceptibility to IAV infection. Results DBA/2J and C57BL/6J mice were evaluated in a time course experiment in which lung tissue was sampled after 6, 12, 18, 24, 48 and 120 h. After anesthesia with ketamine and xylazine, a suspension of mouse-adapted IAV strain PR8_Mun in 20 μl sterile buffer, or 20 μl sterile buffer only, was instilled intranasally. The mice receiving anesthesia and PBS only were designated the “mock treatment” group. Pulmonary expression of 10 host mRNAs (Fos, Retnla, Irg1, Il6, Il1b, Cxcl10, Stat1, Ifng, Ifnl2, and Mx1) and viral hemagglutinin (HA) mRNA were determined at the designated time points. As expected, weight loss and viral replication were greater in the DBA/2J strain (which is more susceptible to IAV infection). Four mRNAs (Retnla, Irg1, Il6, and Cxcl10) were procedure-dependently regulated in DBA/2J mice between 6 and 24 h, and two (Retnla and Il6) in C57BL/6J mice, although to a lesser extent. All 10 mRNAs rose after infection, but one (Fos) only in DBA/2J mice. These infection-dependent effects could be separated from procedure-dependent effects beginning around 12 h in DBA/2J and 18 h in C57BL/6J mice. The interferon-related mRNAs Stat1, Ifng, Infl2, and Mx1 were unaffected by mock treatment in either mouse strain. Mx1 and Infl2 correlated best with HA mRNA expression (r = 0.97 and 0.93, respectively, in DBA/2J). Conclusions These results demonstrate effects of the anesthesia and/or intranasal infection procedure on pulmonary gene expression, which are detectable between approximately 6 and 24 h post procedure and vary in intensity and temporal evolution depending on the mouse strain used. Mock infection controls should be included in all studies on pulmonary gene expression in the early phase of infection with IAV and, likely, other respiratory pathogens.
    • Influence of internalin a murinisation on host resistance to orally acquired listeriosis in mice

      Bergmann, Silke; Beard, Philippa M; Pasche, Bastian; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Weiss, Siegfried; Gahan, Cormac G M; Schughart, Klaus; Lengeling, Andreas (2013-04-23)
      Abstract Background The bacterial surface protein internalin (InlA) is a major virulence factor of the food-born pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. It plays a critical role in the bacteria crossing the host intestinal barrier by a species-specific interaction with the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin. In mice, the interaction of InlA with murine E-cadherin is impaired due to sequence-specific binding incompatibilities. We have previously used the approach of ‘murinisation’ to establish an oral listeriosis infection model in mice by exchanging two amino acid residues in InlA. This dramatically increases binding to mouse E-cadherin. In the present study, we have used bioluminescent murinised and non-murinised Listeria strains to examine the spatiotemporal dissemination of Listeria in four diverse mouse genetic backgrounds after oral inoculation. Results The murinised Listeria monocytogenes strain showed enhanced invasiveness and induced more severe infections in all four investigated mouse inbred strains compared to the non-murinised Listeria strain. We identified C57BL/6J mice as being most resistant to orally acquired listeriosis whereas C3HeB/FeJ, A/J and BALB/cJ mice were found to be most susceptible to infection. This was reflected in faster kinetics of Listeria dissemination, higher bacterial loads in internal organs, and elevated serum levels of IL-6, IFN-γ, TNF-α and CCL2 in the susceptible strains as compared to the resistant C57BL/6J strain. Importantly, murinisation of InlA did not cause enhanced invasion of Listeria monocytogenes into the brain. Conclusion Murinised Listeria are able to efficiently cross the intestinal barrier in mice from diverse genetic backgrounds. However, expression of murinized InlA does not enhance listerial brain invasion suggesting that crossing of the blood brain barrier and crossing of the intestinal epithelium are achieved by Listeria monocytogenes through different molecular mechanisms.
    • QTLminer: identifying genes regulating quantitative traits

      Alberts, Rudi; Schughart, Klaus (2010-10-15)
      Abstract Background Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping identifies genomic regions that likely contain genes regulating a quantitative trait. However, QTL regions may encompass tens to hundreds of genes. To find the most promising candidate genes that regulate the trait, the biologist typically collects information from multiple resources about the genes in the QTL interval. This process is very laborious and time consuming. Results QTLminer is a bioinformatics tool that automatically performs QTL region analysis. It is available in GeneNetwork and it integrates information such as gene annotation, gene expression and sequence polymorphisms for all the genes within a given genomic interval. Conclusions QTLminer substantially speeds up discovery of the most promising candidate genes within a QTL region.
    • Towards the integration of mouse databases - definition and implementation of solutions to two use-cases in mouse functional genomics

      Gruenberger, Michael; Alberts, Rudi; Smedley, Damian; Swertz, Morris; Schofield, Paul; Schughart, Klaus (2010-01-22)
      Abstract Background The integration of information present in many disparate biological databases represents a major challenge in biomedical research. To define the problems and needs, and to explore strategies for database integration in mouse functional genomics, we consulted the biologist user community and implemented solutions to two user-defined use-cases. Results We organised workshops, meetings and used a questionnaire to identify the needs of biologist database users in mouse functional genomics. As a result, two use-cases were developed that can be used to drive future designs or extensions of mouse databases. Here, we present the use-cases and describe some initial computational solutions for them. The application for the gene-centric use-case, "MUSIG-Gen" starts from a list of gene names and collects a wide range of data types from several distributed databases in a "shopping cart"-like manner. The iterative user-driven approach is a response to strongly articulated requests from users, especially those without computational biology backgrounds. The application for the phenotype-centric use-case, "MUSIG-Phen", is based on a similar concept and starting from phenotype descriptions retrieves information for associated genes. Conclusion The use-cases created, and their prototype software implementations should help to better define biologists' needs for database integration and may serve as a starting point for future bioinformatics solutions aimed at end-user biologists.
    • Transient oligoarthritis of the lower extremity following influenza B virus infection: Case report

      Bruck, Normi; Gahr, Manfred; Pessler, Frank (2010-01-14)
      Abstract A 12-year-old girl developed influenza B virus infection proven by typical symptoms and detection of the virus in a nasopharyngeal swab by culture and PCR. Two weeks later she developed an otherwise unexplained transient oligoarthritis of small joints of the left foot. Influenza viruses may be a hitherto underappreciated cause of a post-infectious arthritis.