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The genetic architecture of odor-guided behavior in Drosophila: epistasis and the transcriptome


We combined transcriptional profiling and quantitative genetic analysis to elucidate the genetic architecture of olfactory behavior in Drosophila melanogaster. We applied whole-genome expression analysis to five coisogenic smell-impaired (smi) mutant lines and their control. We used analysis of variance to partition variation in transcript abundance between males and females and between smi genotypes and to determine the genotype-by-sex interaction. A total of 666 genes showed sexual dimorphism in transcript abundance, and 530 genes were coregulated in response to one or more smi mutations, showing considerable epistasis at the level of the transcriptome in response to single mutations. Quantitative complementation tests of mutations at these coregulated genes with the smi mutations showed that in most cases (67%) epistatic interactions for olfactory behavior mirrored epistasis at the level of transcription, thus identifying new candidate genes regulating olfactory behavior.

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Figure 1: Epistatic network of smi loci5.
Figure 2: 'Volcano plot' comparing P values for the 'sex' term from analysis of variance of transcript abundance for each probe set on the Affymetrix GeneChip and an arbitrary fold-change significance threshold.
Figure 3
Figure 4: Number of genes with altered expression in smi backgrounds.
Figure 5: Functional categories of genes with significantly altered transcript abundance in five smi lines and their control.


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This work was supported by the W. M. Keck Foundation and grants from the National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to Robert R H Anholt.

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Anholt, R., Dilda, C., Chang, S. et al. The genetic architecture of odor-guided behavior in Drosophila: epistasis and the transcriptome. Nat Genet 35, 180–184 (2003).

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