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Am Nat. 2005 May;165(5):515-23. Epub 2005 Feb 18.

A regulatory network analysis of phenotypic plasticity in yeast.

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  • Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-7223, USA. promislow@uga.edu


Models for the evolution of phenotypic plasticity suggest when and why plasticity might evolve. However, relatively little is known about the genetic basis of plasticity. Molecular studies have recently demonstrated that gene networks can provide a powerful way to infer phenotype from genotype. Information on the structure of the yeast gene regulatory network was combined with data on variation in gene expression in yeast across multiple environments in order to explore the genetic basis of phenotypic plasticity. The phenotypic plasticity of a gene was positively correlated with the number of transcription factors regulating that gene and was significantly lower for transcription factors than for downstream, nonregulatory genes. Plasticity of a gene was also affected by the local substructure of the network in which it was found and by the gene's function. These results illustrate how network analyses can be used to understand the complex genetic architecture of quantitative traits.

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