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Methods Mol Biol. 2004;287:151-68.

Multigenerational selection and detection of altered histone acetylation and methylation patterns: toward a quantitative epigenetics in Drosophila.

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Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Alabama, Birmingham, USA.


Quantitative epigenetics (QE) is a new area of research that combines some of the techniques developed for global quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping analyses with epigenetic analyses. Quantitative traits such as height vary, not in a discrete or discontinuous fashion, but continuously, usually in a normal distribution. QTL analyses assume that allelic DNA sequence variation in a population is partly responsible for the trait variation, and the aim is to deduce the locations of the contributing genes. QE analyses assume that epigenetic variation in a population is partly responsible for the trait variation, and the aim is to associate inheritance of the trait with segregation of informative epigenetic polymorphisms, or epialleles. QTL and QE analyses are thus complementary, but the latter has several advantages. QTL mapping is limited in resolution because of meiotic recombination and population size, placing quantitative traits on genomic regions that are each typically several megabase-pairs long, and requires DNA sequence variation. In contrast, QE analysis can make use of powerful emerging mapping techniques that allow the positioning of epialleles defined by chromatin variation to individual genes or chromosomal regions, even in the absence of DNA sequence variation. In this chapter, we present a case study for QE analysis-epigenetic mapping of enhancers of the KrIf-1 ectopic eye bristle phenotype in an isogenic strain of Drosophila melanogaster.

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