Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Genet., 15 October 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fgene.2012.00208

Genetic background specific hypoxia resistance in rat is correlated with balanced activation of a cross-chromosomal genetic network centering on physiological homeostasis

  • Institute for Medical Genetics and Human Genetics, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Genetic background of an individual can drastically influence an organism’s response upon environmental stress and pathological stimulus. Previous studies in inbred rats showed that compared to Brown Norway (BN), Dahl salt-sensitive (SS) rat exerts strong hypoxia susceptibility. However, despite extensive narrow-down approaches via the chromosome substitution methodology, this genome-based physiological predisposition could not be traced back to distinct quantitative trait loci. Upon the completion and public data availability of PhysGen SS-BN consomic (CS) rat platform, I employed systems biology approach attempting to further our understanding of the molecular basis of genetic background effect in light of hypoxia response. I analyzed the physiological screening data of 22 CS rat strains under normoxia and 2-weeks of hypoxia, and cross-compared them to the parental strains. The analyses showed that SS-9BN and SS-18BN represent the most hypoxia-resistant CS strains with phenotype similar to BN, whereas SS-6BN and SS-YBN segregated to the direction of SS. A meta-analysis on the transcriptomic profiles of these CS rat strains under hypoxia treatment showed that although polymorphisms on the substituted BN chromosomes could be directly involved in hypoxia resistance, this seems to be embedded in a more complex trans-chromosomal genetic regulatory network. Via information theory based modeling approach, this hypoxia relevant core genetic network was reverse engineered. Network analyses showed that the protective effects of BN chromosome 9 and 18 were reflected by a balanced activation of this core network centering on physiological homeostasis. Presumably, it is the system robustness constituted on such differential network activation that acts as hypoxia response modifier. Understanding of the intrinsic link between the individual genetic background and the network robustness will set a basis in the current scientific efforts toward personalized medicine.

Keywords: personalized medicine, systems biology, consomic, hypoxia, homeostasis, network robustness

Citation: Mao L (2012) Genetic background specific hypoxia resistance in rat is correlated with balanced activation of a cross-chromosomal genetic network centering on physiological homeostasis. Front. Gene. 3:208. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2012.00208

Received: 21 August 2012; Accepted: 25 September 2012;
Published online: 15 October 2012.

Edited by:

Peng Jiang, University of Iowa, USA

Reviewed by:

Rui Alves, Universitat de Lleida, Spain
Qiangfeng C. Zhang, Columbia University, USA

Copyright: © 2012 Mao. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Lei Mao, Institute for Medical Genetics and Human Genetics, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Augustenburger Platz 1, D-13353 Berlin, Germany. e-mail: lei.mao@charite.de

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