Abstract / Description of output
Functional genomics has been applied to the genetic dissection of immune response in different ways: (1) experimental crosses between lines that differ in their (non-) specific immune response have been used to detect quantitative trait loci (QTL) underlying these differences. (2) The measurement of gene expression levels for thousands of genes using microarrays or oligonucleotide chips to identify differential expression with regard to antigen challenge: (a) before and after infection, (b) resistant versus susceptible lines, or (c) combinations of both. Interpretation of QTL results is hampered by the fact that confidence regions of the QTL are large and can contain hundreds of potential candidate genes for the QTL. At the same time, the microarray experiments tend to show large numbers of differentially expressed genes without identifying the relationships between these genes. In the recently proposed 'genetical genomics' framework, members of a segregating population are characterised for genome-wide molecular markers and for gene expression levels. This facilitates the mapping of expression-QTL (eQTL): loci in the genome that control the expression of genes. Initial applications of this approach are critically reviewed and potential applications of this approach with regard to immune response are presented.