Heritability and genomics of gene expression in peripheral blood

F.A. Wright, P.F. Sullivan, A.I. Brooks, F. Zou, W. Sun, K. Xia, V. Madar, R. Jansen, W. Chung, Y.H. Zhou, A. Abdellaoui, S. Batista, C. Butler, G. Chen, T.H. Chen, D. D’Ambrosio, P. Gallins, M.J. Ha, J.J. Hottenga, S. HuangV.M. Kattenberg, J. Kochar, C.M. Middeldorp, A. Qu, A. Shabalin, J. Tischfield, L. Todd, J.Y. Tzeng, G. Grootheest, J.M. Vink, Q. Wang, W. Wang, G. Willemsen, J.H. Smit, E.J.C. de Geus, Z. Yin, B.W.J.H. Penninx, D.I. Boomsma

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We assessed gene expression profiles in 2,752 twins, using a classic twin design to quantify expression heritability and quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) in peripheral blood. The most highly heritable genes (â ̂1/4777) were grouped into distinct expression clusters, enriched in gene-poor regions, associated with specific gene function or ontology classes, and strongly associated with disease designation. The design enabled a comparison of twin-based heritability to estimates based on dizygotic identity-by-descent sharing and distant genetic relatedness. Consideration of sampling variation suggests that previous heritability estimates have been upwardly biased. Genotyping of 2,494 twins enabled powerful identification of eQTLs, which we further examined in a replication set of 1,895 unrelated subjects. A large number of non-redundant local eQTLs (6,756) met replication criteria, whereas a relatively small number of distant eQTLs (165) met quality control and replication standards. Our results provide a new resource toward understanding the genetic control of transcription. © 2014 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-437
Number of pages8
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Cohort Studies

  • Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)


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