Re-expression of fetal genes is a hallmark of transcriptional change in cardiac hypertrophy models. How this remodeling is affected by the common genetic variation present in populations is unknown. We examined the role of genetics, as well as contributions of chromatin proteins, to regulate cardiac gene expression and heart failure susceptibility. We examined gene expression in 84 genetically distinct inbred strains of control and isoproterenol-treated mice, which exhibited varying degrees of disease. Unexpectedly, fetal gene expression was not correlated with hypertrophic phenotypes. Unbiased modeling identified 74 predictors of heart mass after isoproterenol-induced stress, but these predictors did not enrich for any cardiac pathways. However, expanded analysis of fetal genes and chromatin remodelers as groups correlated significantly with individual systemic phenotypes. Yet, cardiac transcription factors and genes shown by gain/loss of function studies to contribute to hypertrophic signaling did not correlate with cardiac mass or function in disease. Because the relationship between gene expression and phenotype was strain-specific, we examined genetic contribution to expression. Strikingly, strains with similar transcriptomes in the basal heart did not cluster together in the isoproterenol state, providing comprehensive evidence that there are different genetic contributors to physiological and pathological gene expression. Furthermore, the divergence in transcriptome similarity versus genetic similarity between strains is organ-specific and genome-wide, suggesting chromatin is the critical buffer between genetics and gene expression. Fetal gene regulation is buffered by genetic variation and is not predictive of disease. Cardiac gene expression is influenced in the basal and disease states through chromatin.
- genetic variability
- heart disease
- gene regulation
- Copyright © 2016, Physiological Genomics