The integration of epistasis network and functional interactions in a GWAS implicates RXR pathway genes in the immune response to smallpox vaccine

Brett A. McKinney, Caleb Lareau, Ann L Oberg, Richard B Kennedy, Inna G. Ovsyannikova, Gregory A. Poland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Although many diseases and traits show large heritability, few genetic variants have been found to strongly separate phenotype groups by genotype. Complex regulatory networks of variants and expression of multiple genes lead to small individual-variant effects and difficulty replicating the effect of any single variant in an affected pathway. Interaction network modeling of GWAS identifies effects ignored by univariate models, but population differences may still cause specific genes to not replicate. Integrative network models may help detect indirect effects of variants in the underlying biological pathway. In this study, we used gene-level functional interaction information from the Integrative Multi-species Prediction (IMP) tool to reveal important genes associated with a complex phenotype through evidence from epistasis networks and pathway enrichment. We test this method for augmenting variant-based network analyses with functional interactions by applying it to a smallpox vaccine immune response GWAS. The integrative analysis spotlights the role of genes related to retinoid X receptor alpha (RXRA), which has been implicated in a previous epistasis network analysis of smallpox vaccine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0158016
JournalPLoS One
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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