Integrating Diverse Types of Genomic Data to Identify Genes that Underlie Adverse Pregnancy Phenotypes.

Hirbo J, Eidem H, Rokas A, Abbot P
PLoS One. 2015 10 (12): e0144155

PMID: 26641094 · PMCID: PMC4671692 · DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0144155

Progress in understanding complex genetic diseases has been bolstered by synthetic approaches that overlay diverse data types and analyses to identify functionally important genes. Pre-term birth (PTB), a major complication of pregnancy, is a leading cause of infant mortality worldwide. A major obstacle in addressing PTB is that the mechanisms controlling parturition and birth timing remain poorly understood. Integrative approaches that overlay datasets derived from comparative genomics with function-derived ones have potential to advance our understanding of the genetics of birth timing, and thus provide insights into the genes that may contribute to PTB. We intersected data from fast evolving coding and non-coding gene regions in the human and primate lineage with data from genes expressed in the placenta, from genes that show enriched expression only in the placenta, as well as from genes that are differentially expressed in four distinct PTB clinical subtypes. A large fraction of genes that are expressed in placenta, and differentially expressed in PTB clinical subtypes (23-34%) are fast evolving, and are associated with functions that include adhesion neurodevelopmental and immune processes. Functional categories of genes that express fast evolution in coding regions differ from those linked to fast evolution in non-coding regions. Finally, there is a surprising lack of overlap between fast evolving genes that are differentially expressed in four PTB clinical subtypes. Integrative approaches, especially those that incorporate evolutionary perspectives, can be successful in identifying potential genetic contributions to complex genetic diseases, such as PTB.

MeSH Terms (9)

Female Gene Expression Regulation Genetic Diseases, Inborn Humans Models, Genetic Phenotype Placenta Pregnancy Premature Birth

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