Detecting gene subnetworks under selection in biological pathways

Alexandre Gouy, Joséphine T. Daub, Laurent Excoffier

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan tijdschriftArtikelpeer review

36 Citaten (Scopus)


Advances in high throughput sequencing technologies have created a gap between data production and functional data analysis. Indeed, phenotypes result from interactions between numerous genes, but traditional methods treat loci independently, missing important knowledge brought by network-level emerging properties. Therefore, detecting selection acting on multiple genes affecting the evolution of complex traits remains challenging. In this context, gene network analysis provides a powerful framework to study the evolution of adaptive traits and facilitates the interpretation of genome-wide data. We developed a method to analyse gene networks that is suitable to evidence polygenic selection. The general idea is to search biological pathways for subnetworks of genes that directly interact with each other and that present unusual evolutionary features. Subnetwork search is a typical combinatorial optimization problem that we solve using a simulated annealing approach. We have applied our methodology to find signals of adaptation to high-altitude in human populations. We show that this adaptation has a clear polygenic basis and is influenced by many genetic components. Our approach, implemented in the R package signet, improves on gene-level classical tests for selection by identifying both new candidate genes and new biological processes involved in adaptation to altitude.

Originele taal-2Engels
TijdschriftNucleic Acids Research
Nummer van het tijdschrift16
StatusGepubliceerd - 19 sep. 2017
Extern gepubliceerdJa


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