Multiple epistatic DNA variants in a single gene affect gene expression in trans

Sheila Lutz, Krisna Van Dyke, Matthew A. Feraru, Frank W. Albert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


DNA variants that alter gene expression in trans are important sources of phenotypic variation. Nevertheless, the identity of trans-acting variants remains poorly understood. Single causal variants in several genes have been reported to affect the expression of numerous distant genes in trans. Whether these simple molecular architectures are representative of trans-acting variation is unknown. Here, we studied the large RAS signaling regulator gene IRA2, which contains variants with extensive trans-acting effects on gene expression in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We used systematic CRISPR-based genome engineering and a sensitive phenotyping strategy to dissect causal variants to the nucleotide level. In contrast to the simple molecular architectures known so far, IRA2 contained at least seven causal nonsynonymous variants. The effects of these variants were modulated by nonadditive, epistatic interactions. Two variants at the 50-end affected gene expression and growth only when combined with a third variant that also had no effect in isolation. Our findings indicate that the molecular basis of trans-acting genetic variation may be considerably more complex than previously appreciated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberiyab208
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Genetics Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:


  • IRA2
  • causal variant
  • eQTL
  • regulatory variation
  • single-nucleotide variants
  • trans eQTL
  • yeast

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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