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PLoS Genet. 2011 Feb;7(2):e1001317. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001317. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

Single-tissue and cross-tissue heritability of gene expression via identity-by-descent in related or unrelated individuals.

Author information

1
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America. aprice@hsph.harvard.edu

Abstract

Family studies of individual tissues have shown that gene expression traits are genetically heritable. Here, we investigate cis and trans components of heritability both within and across tissues by applying variance-components methods to 722 Icelanders from family cohorts, using identity-by-descent (IBD) estimates from long-range phased genome-wide SNP data and gene expression measurements for approximately 19,000 genes in blood and adipose tissue. We estimate the proportion of gene expression heritability attributable to cis regulation as 37% in blood and 24% in adipose tissue. Our results indicate that the correlation in gene expression measurements across these tissues is primarily due to heritability at cis loci, whereas there is little sharing of trans regulation across tissues. One implication of this finding is that heritability in tissues composed of heterogeneous cell types is expected to be more dominated by cis regulation than in tissues composed of more homogeneous cell types, consistent with our blood versus adipose results as well as results of previous studies in lymphoblastoid cell lines. Finally, we obtained similar estimates of the cis components of heritability using IBD between unrelated individuals, indicating that transgenerational epigenetic inheritance does not contribute substantially to the "missing heritability" of gene expression in these tissue types.

PMID:
21383966
PMCID:
PMC3044684
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pgen.1001317
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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