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Nat Rev Genet. 2014 Jan;15(1):34-48. doi: 10.1038/nrg3575. Epub 2013 Dec 3.

Systems genetics approaches to understand complex traits.

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1] Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles. [2] Department of Human Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles. [3] Department of Medicine, A2-237 Center for Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1679, USA.


Systems genetics is an approach to understand the flow of biological information that underlies complex traits. It uses a range of experimental and statistical methods to quantitate and integrate intermediate phenotypes, such as transcript, protein or metabolite levels, in populations that vary for traits of interest. Systems genetics studies have provided the first global view of the molecular architecture of complex traits and are useful for the identification of genes, pathways and networks that underlie common human diseases. Given the urgent need to understand how the thousands of loci that have been identified in genome-wide association studies contribute to disease susceptibility, systems genetics is likely to become an increasingly important approach to understanding both biology and disease.

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