Genome-wide association studies have shed light on the association between natural genetic variation and cardiovascular traits. However, linking a cardiovascular trait associated locus to a candidate gene or set of candidate genes for prioritization for follow-up mechanistic studies is all but straightforward. Genomic technologies based on next-generation sequencing technology nowadays offer multiple opportunities to dissect gene regulatory networks underlying genetic cardiovascular trait associations, thereby aiding in the identification of candidate genes at unprecedented scale. RNA sequencing in particular becomes a powerful tool when combined with genotyping to identify loci that modulate transcript abundance, known as expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL), or loci modulating transcript splicing known as splicing quantitative trait loci (sQTL). Additionally, the allele-specific resolution of RNA-sequencing technology enables estimation of allelic imbalance, a state where the two alleles of a gene are expressed at a ratio differing from the expected 1:1 ratio. When multiple high-throughput approaches are combined with deep phenotyping in a single study, a comprehensive elucidation of the relationship between genotype and phenotype comes into view, an approach known as systems genetics. In this review, we cover key applications of systems genetics in the broad cardiovascular field.
- Journal Article