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Front Genet. 2012 Oct 15;3:208. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2012.00208. eCollection 2012.

Genetic Background Specific Hypoxia Resistance in Rat is Correlated with Balanced Activation of a Cross-Chromosomal Genetic Network Centering on Physiological Homeostasis.

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  • 1Institute for Medical Genetics and Human Genetics, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin Berlin, Germany.


Genetic background of an individual can drastically influence an organism's response upon environmental stress and pathological stimulus. Previous studies in inbred rats showed that compared to Brown Norway (BN), Dahl salt-sensitive (SS) rat exerts strong hypoxia susceptibility. However, despite extensive narrow-down approaches via the chromosome substitution methodology, this genome-based physiological predisposition could not be traced back to distinct quantitative trait loci. Upon the completion and public data availability of PhysGen SS-BN consomic (CS) rat platform, I employed systems biology approach attempting to further our understanding of the molecular basis of genetic background effect in light of hypoxia response. I analyzed the physiological screening data of 22 CS rat strains under normoxia and 2-weeks of hypoxia, and cross-compared them to the parental strains. The analyses showed that SS-9(BN) and SS-18(BN) represent the most hypoxia-resistant CS strains with phenotype similar to BN, whereas SS-6(BN) and SS-Y(BN) segregated to the direction of SS. A meta-analysis on the transcriptomic profiles of these CS rat strains under hypoxia treatment showed that although polymorphisms on the substituted BN chromosomes could be directly involved in hypoxia resistance, this seems to be embedded in a more complex trans-chromosomal genetic regulatory network. Via information theory based modeling approach, this hypoxia relevant core genetic network was reverse engineered. Network analyses showed that the protective effects of BN chromosome 9 and 18 were reflected by a balanced activation of this core network centering on physiological homeostasis. Presumably, it is the system robustness constituted on such differential network activation that acts as hypoxia response modifier. Understanding of the intrinsic link between the individual genetic background and the network robustness will set a basis in the current scientific efforts toward personalized medicine.


consomic; homeostasis; hypoxia; network robustness; personalized medicine; systems biology

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