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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Oct 11;108(41):17070-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1113877108. Epub 2011 Sep 26.

Complex genetic architecture of Drosophila aggressive behavior.

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  • 1Laboratory of Developmental Genetics, Center for Human Genetics, Catholic University Leuven and Flemish Institute for Biotechnology, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Epistasis and pleiotropy feature prominently in the genetic architecture of quantitative traits but are difficult to assess in outbred populations. We performed a diallel cross among coisogenic Drosophila P-element mutations associated with hyperaggressive behavior and showed extensive epistatic and pleiotropic effects on aggression, brain morphology, and genome-wide transcript abundance in head tissues. Epistatic interactions were often of greater magnitude than homozygous effects, and the topology of epistatic networks varied among these phenotypes. The transcriptional signatures of homozygous and double heterozygous genotypes derived from the six mutations imply a large mutational target for aggressive behavior and point to evolutionarily conserved genetic mechanisms and neural signaling pathways affecting this universal fitness trait.

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