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PLoS Genet. 2014 Sep 11;10(9):e1004634. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004634. eCollection 2014 Sep.

Causal variation in yeast sporulation tends to reside in a pathway bottleneck.

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Department of Genetics and Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America.


There has been extensive debate over whether certain classes of genes are more likely than others to contain the causal variants responsible for phenotypic differences in complex traits between individuals. One hypothesis states that input/output genes positioned in signal transduction bottlenecks are more likely than other genes to contain causal natural variation. The IME1 gene resides at such a signaling bottleneck in the yeast sporulation pathway, suggesting that it may be more likely to contain causal variation than other genes in the sporulation pathway. Through crosses between natural isolates of yeast, we demonstrate that the specific causal nucleotides responsible for differences in sporulation efficiencies reside not only in IME1 but also in the genes that surround IME1 in the signaling pathway, including RME1, RSF1, RIM15, and RIM101. Our results support the hypothesis that genes at the critical decision making points in signaling cascades will be enriched for causal variants responsible for phenotypic differences.

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